Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 20:

It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.” - Albert Einstein

A man is born alone and dies alone; and he experiences the good and bad consequences of his karma alone; and he goes alone to hell or the Supreme abode.” - Chanakya

It wasn't difficult to find each other. Tiara was already waiting at the cornucopia when Coale arrived. It seemed obvious to meet here, as both were eager to finish the games.

It was a struggle, but Coale knew that he was finished long before it happened. Tiara was strong, and she knew it. She'd never doubted that she would win, and her confidence was strong enough to cause Coale to doubt his own strength. That may have been what finished him.

Tiara smirked as the cannon sounded. Tiara's laughter began to ring loudly around the arena when she heard her victory being announced to the world.


Tiara wasn't really sure what she had been expecting upon winning the games. Happiness, she supposed. And she was happy. In a sense. But there was also this weird feeling that she hadn't been expecting. She didn't notice it at first. Not until she was back in District 4.

She'd been cheered and celebrated that day. Her entire district had been present to welcome her home as she stepped off the train. Tiara had felt so proud to know that they were there for her, and that people were celebrating her and District 4 all across Panem.

Things had changed after that day, although it took Tiara time before she caught on. Before she realized that there was a side to being a victor that she'd never given any thought to. The side where her friends and family seemed scared of her, though they attempted to hide it. The side where she was ignored by all of the people in her district unless she directly engaged them in conversation, and even then they escaped as soon as possible.

She was happy though, she reminded herself. Lonelier than she had expected. But happy.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 19: Alcohol

Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.” - P.J. O'Rourke

Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.” - George Bernard Shaw

The blizzard's end was more than welcome to Jocelin, but such a horrible cold had set in that she still struggled to warm herself. Even as the arena warmed and melted the snow, she was forced to drudge through the cold slush that soaked her shoes and socks with ice cold water. Jocelin was forced to stop several times and remove her shoes completely. She could only hope that rubbing them would warm them enough to ward off frostbite. After a long internal debate about whether wet, cold socks were better or worse than no socks at all, Jocelin finally found the stream, which was now overflowing with the melted snow.


It hadn't been hard to find her. With her footprints laid out for the world to see, Coale had tracked Jocelin until he had her cornered at the stream. The rushing water would prevent her from crossing, and he knew she wouldn't stand a chance of running in this snow anyway. She cried when she saw him in anticipation for her coming death.

Please end it,” she whispered as he stood over her.

The blood-soaked snow was left as evidence of what had taken place, even after the body was removed, and Coale knew he needed to get away from this spot. He needed to end it. Now.


Tiara smiled widely as she heard the cannon blast. One other tribute was now all that stood between her and victory. She wondered briefly who had made it through. She knew that Jocelin and Coale had been the only two left standing because Tiara herself had made all of the other kills since last night's projection of the dead. She expected to find Coale, but if a weakling such as Jocelin had gotten through, then she wasn't going to complain about the easy win. She just needed to find the other tribute and end this for good.


Neither of the remaining tributes paid any thoughts to those watching around Panem. Citizens across the country watched in anticipation. Some were horrified as they inched closer to the screens in their rundown houses. Some conversed joyfully with the crowd around them as they partied drunkenly in celebration of the coming conclusion to this year's games. Everyone in Panem would be affected by the coming events, but no one would be as wrecked as the two tributes about to fight to the death.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 18: Storm

After a storm comes a calm.” - Matthew Henry

Human misery must somewhere have a stop; there is no wind that always blows a storm.” - Euripides

Ezra's relief of having slipped passed Tiara had quickly faded after being faced with the snow. At first it had seemed easy enough to handle. He'd dealt with snow his entire life in District 10. Then, the snow worsened, and although still comparable to District 10, Ezra realized that this time he didn't have any shelter to which he could escape. He was alone in what was quickly turning into a blizzard. He didn't understand why the gamemakers wanted to do this so close to the end. Wouldn't it just make it more difficult for them to fight? But Ezra had given up understanding the gamemakers long ago. For now, he had more important things to worry about.


Jocelin gripped the light jacket that had been a part of her tribute uniform tightly to her. It wasn't helping much anymore, but even a thin layer was better than nothing. The only bright side to this storm was it was helping her forget about how dirty her skin felt. Now, she was consumed by cold. She shivered as she looked around the arena. Jocelin hoped it ended soon.


Coale had managed to forage enough food for a couple of meals before the storm picked up. He was suddenly thankful for the cold District 12 winters as he walked with his back toward the strong breeze. The one advantage of the wind was that it now provided sufficient disguise of his footprints. No longer having to worry about leaving an obvious trail, Coale began to head in the direction of the cornucopia. He wanted to end this as quickly as possible.


Oh, look,” Tiara smirked maliciously. “It's little baby Ezra.”

Ezra had seen Tiara in this state before, but never had he been on the receiving end of it. He'd been so careful when escaping the alliance with her, but the storm had caused him to drop his guard. He'd been so concerned with protecting himself from the elements that he hadn't protected himself from the biggest danger. He shouldn't have been surprised when Tiara cornered him.

Don't worry,” Tiara reassured him. “I'll make it quick. After all, we were friends, weren't we?”

And quick it was.


Tiara watched as Ezra's body was removed from the arena. Minutes later she could see the snow start to lighten. It became easier to see, and Tiara felt as if she could detect just a minuscule rising in the temperature. They'd gotten one death, and apparently, that was enough. With just three tributes left, the rest of the games would be eventful even without the severe weather. Tiara smirked as she thought of how close she was to winning. Just two more deaths to go.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 17: Snow

Chapter 17: Snow

Corruption is like a ball of snow, once it's set a rolling it must increase.” - Charles Caleb Colton

Dawn would be breaking soon, and a chill was in the air that hadn't been present before. Ezra took that as a foreboding sign, one that made him even more reluctant to leave Tiara behind. She'd be waking up soon. He swore her eyes opened the second the sun peaked across the horizon. Ezra couldn't be sure of the exact time of sunrise, but he estimated he had a little less than half an hour to get away.

If Tiara caught him, Ezra had no doubt that he'd be dead within minutes, so he crept away as quietly as possible. He took only a small amount of Tiara's supplies with him, as he wanted to have something without angrying Tiara much. After all, they would likely face each other in the future. He didn't want it to be with any more animosity than necessary. He had a strong feeling Tiara would be the one to end him. In fact, he'd bet money she'd win the games, but foolishly, that wasn't stopping Ezra from trying. There was still a glimmer of hope inside him as he disappeared into the forest.


Something cold and wet woke Tiara from her light slumber. Her eyes flew open only to be met with a haze of white. Even as she watched it, the snow began to fall quicker. All around her the ground was already covered in a light layer of white that had managed to make it through the trees above. It took several more seconds for Tiara to asses that Ezra was nowhere in sight. She sighed in slight frustration, but accepted the situation quickly.

Her clothes weren't suited for winter weather, and she knew that the gamemakers had done this purposefully. They expected a quick end to the games. The gamemakers would keep the tributes just cold enough to motivate them and not freeze them to death.

Well, look who we have here.”

Tiara froze at the familiar sound of Troy's voice. She silently congratulated him for actually sneaking up on her this time, but she was still confident as she turned to meet his gaze.

Troy,” she greeted.

He sneered back, "Tiara."

It was a bloody fight, and one well-matched. Tiara had no doubt that the Capitol enjoyed watching her kill Troy after the biggest struggle of the games so far. She regretted not being able to save him for last, but at least it would buy her some time. They wouldn't be expecting much out of her right away at this rate.


The newly dusted ground provided a disadvantage for Coale. He realized right away that he would have to go through a lot of trouble in order to disguise his footprints. The best thing to do as far as he could tell would be to stay in his hiding spot, but he doubted the gamemakers would allow that for long. Besides, he was running low on food, and he needed to keep his strength up. With the snow, it would be harder to find food, and he needed to take care of that now before the snow got even worse and the food even harder to find.


Jocelin's skin still felt raw from the scrubbing it had received hours ago. No matter how hard she scrubbed, she could still see traces of her victims' blood everywhere she looked. In fact, she'd rubbed so hard that her own blood had now tarnished her skin. She tried to pay it no mind, especially as she had bigger problems. She needed to find shelter and fast. The temperature had dropped quickly, and Jocelin's limbs were getting harder to move as frostbite set in. A fire would be risky, but she was running out of options. What did she have to lose now anyway?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 16: Horrific

Chapter 16: Horrific

Likewise, education can direct people toward good or evil ends. When education is based on a fundamentally distorted worldview, the results are horrific.” - Daisaku Ikeda

Sometimes the way you respond to horrific, evil deeds is the measure of one's self as a man, as a nation, as people, as a community.” - James Wood

Tiara smirked as she spied on Ezra through the brush. It was amazing the soft boy was still alive. She chalked it up to luck and nothing else. Welcome luck though, as she'd been growing bored ever since ditching Troy hours ago and was just itching to have some more fun.

Hey! Ezra!” To say that the boy was startled would be an understatement. The boy had been watching his surroundings closely, and Tiara sneaking up on him had shocked him to his core. To make matters worse: it was Tiara. She wasn't exactly the first tribute he would have chosen to come in contact with.

Want to form an alliance?” Tiara asked in amusement as the boy scrambled for the small knife that was his only weapon.

Ezra stared at her in shock before stuttering out, “Are you serious?”

Tiara's smirk only widened. “Of course I am, dear Ezra.”

Ezra knew it was a horrible idea, but he really didn't have much choice. If he said no, he knew he'd be killed on the spot.



Coale tossed and turned as he tried to sleep in a small crevice he had found as a hiding spot. He didn't feel safe (probably never would again), and he was finding sleep impossible. How was he supposed to rest when there were five people out there that wanted his blood. Well, okay. Maybe four. Ezra didn't want anyone's blood. But none of that made anything more reassuring. All Coale could think of was the horrific things that had happened to him since the games started. He'd never rest again.


He'd lost her. Troy had been carefully following Tiara for almost a full day before she just disappeared. Now he would have to track down another tribute if he hoped to have any fun. He couldn't believe this. He'd been so careful. How did she disappear like that? He had to admit: Tiara was good. She would be a challenge when their confrontation came, and he planned to make that confrontation come soon. He wanted to get it over with. No doubt it would be a nasty fight, but if he could get her, then the path to winning would be clear for him.


Chloe's dehydration had worsened, and the longer she went without water, the harder it was for her to search for the water that she needed. Never had she thirsted so much. It was torturous, and Chloe couldn't find the strength to go on any longer. She wasn't surprised when Tiara appeared. It wasn't as if she had bothered to hide herself well. Chloe put up no fight. She doubted she could struggle if she tried. She was too weak and miserable to even be scared of what she knew was coming. The darkness was a blessed relief.


Jocelin scrubbed hard at blood that had attached itself permanently to her skin. Her skin was raw from the useless effort to clean it. Even in the areas where she had managed to get rid of the residue, she still felt the blood's presence. It had become a part of her that would never be gone. The thought only made her scrub harder.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 15: Need

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” - Maya Angelou

All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure” - Mark Twain

Chloe tried to stifle her cough, not wanting it to draw attention her way. Her throat was dry, as she hadn't had water for most of the day. She had somehow gotten disoriented, and she could no longer find her way to any of the water sources she'd been around earlier in the games. At first, she'd been attempting to find an alternate source, as the other tributes were likely around the ones she'd already found. But with no such luck, she'd been discouraged after searching for the well-known stream for hours. All she wanted was water. She was desperate for it. Some berries she'd found had helped a bit, but they weren't an adequate substitute. She couldn't be far from the stream. At least, she hoped not.


Coale sighed as he looked at Ezra. “I guess this is it,” he said somewhat reluctantly. “There are only seven of us left. Soon it will all be over.”

Ezra nodded before holding out a hand for Coale to shake. It briefly struck Coale as odd considering where they were, but he took the offered hand anyway and shook it firmly.

I really hope we don't see each other again,” Ezra said as they stepped back from each other.

Me too, Ezra. I really do.”


Jocelin squinted as she opened her eyes. It was much brighter than it had been when she closed them, and she realized that she must have been sleeping for quite a while. It took several seconds for everything to catch up with her and her horror to return. Then, she remembered her blood covered hands and face and... everything.

Looking down, Jocelin could see that the blood had dried. Only a vigorous scrubbing would remove it now. The thought brought new tears to Jocelin's already raw eyes. She felt calmer, as if she had somewhat accepted that she was a murderer, but she was by no means okay. Every part of her hurt, not physically but emotionally. It was as if Jocelin's soul, if such a thing even existed, had been put through a shredder.

Jocelin knew that she'd been laying here for far too long, and the area didn't provide much cover to hide. She was lucky, or unlucky rather, that no tributes had stumbled upon her and finished her off. The smart thing to do would be to move on, but Jocelin couldn't find the strength to stand, let alone walk.


Troy had been alone for more than a day now, and he was quite enjoying his solitude. As a career, he'd always envisioned his experience in the games as being surrounded by a group. He knew he'd be alone eventually, but he'd never given that part much thought. He liked this separation though. The gamemakers had tried to herd him towards the others several hours ago, and Troy had complied. He had no other choice. The lightening would have gotten him if he'd disobeyed. As it was, his clothes were soaked through, but dodging the small fires that sprung up around him had been invigorating.

They'd led him straight to Tiara though, and it had caused Troy to hesitate. He'd been expecting one of the weaker tributes, not a fellow career, but apparently the Capitol was really itching for some conflict if the gamemakers wanted one of the remaining careers gone. Still, Troy was hesitant. Of all the people in the arena, Tiara would be the toughest to take. She'd proved just how strong she was when they were in an alliance, and Troy wasn't looking forward to being in opposition to that. So he pulled back and hid. He continued watching, but he wouldn't make a move just yet.


Demetrius hadn't seen anyone since Etin's death. With two kills on his shoulders, Demetrius figured he should be able to be alone for a while before he was expected to confront anyone new. Things had to be getting intense now amongst the others. There were only seven of them left. Demetrius would have never dared hope that he'd get this far, but he knew that it would be a stroke of luck if he got any further.

Demetrius had no desire to kill again. He'd spent his entire life trying to be kind to others only to enter the arena and become a killer. No more. He wouldn't end another life. He couldn't live much longer with the knowledge of what he had done. Demetrius had come to accept that he would die. It was what he wanted.

It was easy to find Ezra. The other tribute wasn't the sneakiest person around. He also wasn't the best for the job Demetrius was about to ask him to complete, but Demetrius wasn't about to be picky. Besides, he'd come to like Ezra while they'd been aligned together. At least he would die at the hands of a friend.

You want me to what?” Ezra asked in disbelief. He had been relieved when Demetrius had raised no weapon, but now he found his heart racing.

You heard me,” Demetrius answered. “You get a kill and get farther in the games, and I get what I want too.”

He added a quiet, “please,” when Ezra seemed hesitant.

Please forgive me,” Ezra murmured. Demetrius knew it wasn't directed towards him, as Ezra already knew all to well how serious he was. Instead, Ezra seemed to be speaking to the world as a whole. As if he wanted everyone watching to forgive him, to not view him as a murderer. Most importantly of all, however, Ezra seemed be be begging himself to do the same thing.

Demetrius' last thought before the world went black was a wish that sweet, pure Ezra wouldn't die as ruined as Demetrius. It was a wish in vain.


Tiara smirked as the cannon sounded. Eighteen down. Five more to go. Soon she would be the victor.

She listened closely to the rustling in the distance and chuckled to herself. Troy was following her. He was stupid to believe she didn't notice. It was clear that the Capitol had herded him here, but he was taking his time to confront her. Tiara figured that on some level he must have known that he would lose.

She was having a bit of fun making him follow her, but if he didn't attack soon, she would have to lose him. She was getting tired, and there was no way Tiara was staying up all night just to have fun leading another tribute around the arena. She'd get around to killing him soon, but if she could, she wanted to leave him for the big finale. After all, what better way to end on a bang than killing a fellow career?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 14: Young

There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist” - Mark Twain

Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you'd never complete your life, would you? You'd never wholly know you.” - Marilyn Monroe

Ezra was still recovering from the shock of waking up to Kendrick's death when Coale appeared in front of him. Coale tilted his head in curiosity as Ezra remained stoic and watched the stream flow by.

Just kill me,” Ezra spoke softly. “I'm so tired of this. Just do it.”

Coale didn't say anything as he continued to study Ezra.

I'm not killing someone who won't even put up a fight. Unlike others in here, I have standards.”

Ezra finally looked up at Coale, and Coale was slightly startled by the darkness in his eyes.

I want you to do it,” Ezra growled.

Which is why I won't,” Coale shrugged. “You don't deserve to die a pathetic death. You're not escaping this hell hole without a fight. Come on, let's go find some tributes who will actually fight back.”

Ezra had no plans to follow Coale, but Coale didn't plan on leaving him behind. Coale's superior strength pulled Ezra to his feet, and the empty boy obediently followed behind.


Jocelin had never spoken to Ahnette, and that made the kill easier than the others. Jocelin's mind hadn't calmed down. She still had horrible thoughts running through her mind, and she knew this must be what it felt like to go crazy. So far gone was Jocelin that she had given up all hope of being a decent person. Ahnette didn't fight back very hard, but even still, Jocelin was amazed at how easy it was for her to overpower the other girl. There was blood. More blood than any of Jocelin's other kills had resulted in. She couldn't separate herself from the act as she looked down at the blood covering her body.

Jocelin held her face in her hands, even as she could feel the blood smearing everywhere. She fumbled with her canteen for a moment before dropping it onto the ground. She didn't deserve to be clean. She couldn't rid herself of what she had done, so she shouldn't remove the evidence of it either.

Jocelin curled herself up into a ball as she fell asleep under the slight shade that the forest provided.


Coale didn't have to look far for a tribute willing to put up a fight. Gerald had ambushed the two other boys just a couple of hours after Coale and Ezra had made their alliance. The fact that he was outnumbered didn't seem to stop Gerald. He was past the point of caring what happened to him, but he had to do something. Fighting seemed like the obvious answer, even if it shortened his life.

Ezra wasn't much help, but what little the boy did to help Coale was enough to give Coale the advantage.

Regardless of his seemingly tough nature, Coale hadn't killed yet, and as good as he was a leader, he didn't like the idea of being a murderer. He didn't like the idea of dying so young either though, so he couldn't stop himself from plunging his knife into Gerald's chest when he finally found an opening. After all, it was Gerald's own stupidity for attacking not one but two tributes on his own. He was clearly asking for death.

It was an oddly calming act for Coale. The regret he expected to feel didn't come. Ezra, who had done relatively nothing in comparison, seemed far more shaken. He may not have delivered the final blow, but he had helped. The boy who had always tried to help every creature to the tiniest of birds to other humans had helped kill. He could hear Coale calling him, but Ezra ignored him as he sank to knees and cried.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 13: Die

We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” - Orson Welles

If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.” - Maya Angelou

Ahnette wandered through the forest constantly on alert. She remembered coming back to find Fayth's dead body. It had miraculously been the only corpse she'd seen during the games, and the bloody sight had shocked her. Fayth had been so weak and innocent. She most certainly hadn't deserved such a cruel and gory end.

Plus, after spending the beginning of the games entirely alone, Ahnette had begun to welcome the company that companionship brought. Now, she was alone again and too distrustful to seek out an alliance. She realized that this was most likely how she would die. Alone. Ahnette could very well never speak to another human until she came face-to-face with her killer. Would she even speak to her killer? Would her killer be a sneak who denied her even the opportunity to see their face? The thought worried Ahnette even more as the morning sun rose a bit higher and the forest lightened.


The two boys were evenly matched. Not only were Huntur and Gerald both seventeen, but they had been graced with similar builds. Both boys had been struggling to overcome the other for a while now, and neither one was having much success. It was a test of stamina more than anything really, with them being matched in nearly every other area.

It seemed to be a twist of fate when Gerald got the upper hand on Huntur. Huntur felt humiliated as he waited for death to come. He was a career, yet he'd had no kills. His brash, egotistical nature had abandoned him as he whimpered in pain. Gerald, an unimportant District 8 boy, was about to get his second kill of the games, and this one was far more impressive than the young boy he had killed easily.

Gerald smirked with pride as he watched Huntur's final breaths. He waited until the cannon sounded before casually continuing on his way with a new confidence at his accomplishment.


The cannon had announced another death, which sent the current tribute count to ten. Chloe looked at her four companions as she debated with herself. Was an alliance really worth it at this point? There were five of them. Half of the competition was in each other's company. The gamemakers wouldn't let it stay like that for long. They'd have to start killing each other soon.

Coale and Tiara were having similar thoughts. Coale had been more than fed up with Tiara recently anyway, and now he had the perfect excuse to leave. Tiara had never really enjoyed having any of her companions around, and her hatred of them had only grown since she joined them. This alliance no longer put any of them at an advantage.

Right,” Tiara spoke up to gain everyone's attention. “I know I'm not the only one thinking about breaking up the alliance.”

Coale nodded, while trying to conceal his hatred for the girl. “It seems like a good idea at this point.”

Kendrick shuffled his feet and looked at the others sheepishly. “Are you sure? I think it might be a good idea to stick together a bit longer.”

Me too,” Jocelin agreed.

Then you two do that,” Tiara shrugged. “I'm out of here.”

She turned and walked away, not even bothering to glance back at them. Coale cleared his throat awkwardly after Tiara's abrupt departure.

Well, I guess I'll follow her lead.” He was a bit friendlier as he bid everyone goodbye. Unlike Tiara, he'd gotten along with these people, even if he still viewed them as competition.

Chloe nodded. “I'll be leaving too, I guess. Good luck.”

She offered a gentle smile as she left Kendrick and Jocelin behind.


Ezra watched Jocelin and Kendrick as he ate with them. He hadn't expected to be in another alliance so soon, but Jocelin had been adamant about him joining when she had come across him. Ezra had been prepared for a fight to the death, but she had excitedly babbled on about her “new friend.” Ezra had gone along with it because anything was better than death, and Kendrick had just watched Jocelin closely, as if analyzing her actions just as Ezra was.

The more the two boys observed, the more they thought Jocelin had officially lost her mind. The end of her and Kendrick's former alliance had seemed to snap something in the girl. It was as if she suddenly realized that death was coming, and she wanted to prolong it as long as possible. If that meant forming alliances with anyone she met and treating them with the utmost kindness, she was apparently going to do that. Kendrick would have been amused if it hadn't meant he was now stuck with a crazy person. Ezra was just at a lost of what to do. Then again, he had been lost since his name was reaped.


Jocelin watched her two companions closely as they slept. The sun hadn't been set long, and Jocelin's shift as watch had a lot longer to go. She hated sitting around in solitude. She wanted nothing more than to lose herself to unconsciousness, but instead she was stuck awake and trapped in the torture of her own mind. Jocelin didn't really understand what was happening to her. It was as if something had snapped in her earlier today. Being abandoned by a group that she had foolishly come of rely on more than she should have. It only added upon the loss of Fayth, who had been the closest thing she'd had to a friend here.

Now she couldn't trust at all, yet trust was all that she desperately wanted to do. That was why she had rashly pressured Ezra to join her and Kendrick. He had seemed like a decent human being, as decent as anyone could be and still be alive. He wouldn't hurt her, not in an alliance.

Yet a part of her mind kept telling her differently. There was no one she could trust. No one. Why did she stay with Kendrick and Ezra? She'd be better off alone. Kill everyone before they could kill her. That was the better plan.

She could kill them now. The thought began to repeat itself over and over in her mind as she watched them sleep. They'd never even realize. She could do it. Her second and third kills just like that. She'd be closer to relief...

Jocelin didn't realize what she was doing until her hands were wrapped around Kendrick's throat. What lasted only minutes in reality seemed to go on for days in her mind. Jocelin was in a daze as she watched Kendrick's eyes open as he gasped for air. The lack of oxygen seemed to weaken the already scrawny boy, and Kendrick was unable to put up much of a fight.

Jocelin was powerless as the boy suffocated by her hands. It took the cannon sounding for Jocelin to jump back to reality. Her eyes quickly found Ezra as he jumped up at the sudden noise. He seemed shocked as he stared at Jocelin, who was still frozen over Kendrick's limp body.

Suddenly, Jocelin's brain started yelling at her to run, and she bolted from Ezra's still shocked and confused gaze, as she tried to sort out what she had just done.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 12: See

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” - Marcus Aurelius

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

Ezra, Troy, and Ahnette had been together for a while now, and all three agreed that the need for their alliance had passed. Troy's violent nature and Ahnette's vengeful nature didn't mesh well with Ezra's gentle and compassionate one. In fact, Ezra would be lying if he said he wasn't utterly terrified being in the other two's presence.

I think it's time to end our alliance,” Ezra announced as the three companions finished up their breakfast of berries.

Agreed,” Troy shrugged. “I've been thinking so since yesterday.”
Me too,” Ahnette agreed. “No offense Ezra, but you aren't the greatest person to have around in these games.”

Ezra rolled his eyes, but didn't comment on Ahnette's insult.

So it's agreed,” Ezra said. “We'll go our separate ways.”

No more was said as the three tributes set off in different directions.


Ahnette stumbled upon the girl on accident. She had only been focused on getting away from Troy (before he decided he could double back and get her since they'd formally ended their alliance) when Ahnette had heard a rustling that left her instantly alert.

Her careful inspection had rewarded her with the sight of the crazy girl Fayth in the midst of a panic attack at Ahnette's approach. Ahnette wanted to kill the girl, and most of her was screaming at her to do it. However, a small bit of compassion overwhelmed every other part of her. She couldn't kill the girl while she was in such a state. Ahnette wanted to retain some of her dignity.

Here,” Ahnette whispered softly as she knelt on the ground. “Have some water.”

Ahnette had to hold the canteen as Fayth's hands were shaking, and water dribbled down Fayth's chin. Still, Fayth seemed to calm as she sensed Ahnette meant no harm. Ahnette pulled the other girl to her feet and ushered her on. She wasn't excited about her new companion, but for the moment, she'd have to deal with it.


Ezra watched Ahnette and Fayth closely. He'd been following them for a couple of hours now. After ending the alliance, Ezra had decided that he had better get his act together and actually get a kill. Going after Ahnette seemed easy enough, and he'd taken off after her only to discover her comforting the crazy girl.

After watching Fayth's panic attacks, Ezra came upon a new idea. He remembered his father explaining why sometimes killing an animal was better than letting it suffer. When Ezra was very young the idea that killing could ever be better than living had seemed preposterous, but it had started to make sense to him over the years. And now Ezra couldn't see why the same shouldn't apply to humans as well.

Fayth wasn't making it out of this arena. She couldn't be a victor, and every minute she spent in here she was just getting worse. Ezra had watched several panic attacks from his hiding places, and they weren't easy to watch. The girl was suffering. It would be a win-win situation. Fayth's suffering would end, and Ezra would finally get a kill.

He repeated it like a mantra as he came up behind the poor girl while Ahnette had left to go forage. Fayth never suspected a thing, and Ezra walked away from his first kill with the assurance that he had ended her suffering. An assurance that didn't seem so assuring now that he had her blood on his hands.


Demetrius watched closely as Etin wandered away from the others in his alliance. Demetrius had heard him mention that he needed to relieve himself, and Demetrius knew that this was his chance. He'd get his second kill in and be gone.

It was eerily similar to Boston's death if Demetrius really let himself think about it. He plunged his spear into Etin in just the same way, and he ran at just the same speed. Perhaps it made it easier that way, just repeating motions that he'd already gone through. It made it easier to forget what he had done, even as the cannon proclaimed Etin's death. Demetrius could pretend that he'd just been going through motions.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 11: Walk

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” - Buddha

Mina was gone before sunrise. The second alliance she had left in the darkness of night. She wasn't making many friends, but that wasn't what she was after anyway. She was tired of dealing with these people. Each time she thought that maybe she'd found a group she could put up with for a little while, but each time she was proven wrong. No one in this arena was her friend, and it was time she started acting like it.

What Mina failed to realize was that she wasn't really alone. She had been closely watched for more than a day now, and she wasn't getting away as easily as she had hoped.


Tiara watched closely as Tifanee slept in the midst of the rest of their alliance. Pieces of advice from her training long before the games kept flowed through her thoughts. “Never betray an alliance. It makes you look bad to the audience. It keeps you from getting sponsors. It's not worth it.”

She'd heard similar things a million times before, yet Tiara was itching to kill. She hadn't killed anyone since the bloodbath at the cornucopia, and all she wanted was another kill to her name. The small girl who had been frustrating her the past couple of days was the perfect target. The rest of their alliance was asleep. Tiara would drag the body away and make up some lie about Tifanee needing to pee and never coming back. They'd never know. Tiara would keep the area clean and make sure to go with the quietest method possible. No one would ever know, except the audience.
And she thought that was a risk she was willing to take....


I think I'm going to head out on my own,” Demetrius announced to his companions over their “breakfast.”

The other three looked at him in mild surprise.

It's just,” Demetrius hesitated for a moment before continuing. “Our biggest strengths as a group were having a career with us and Kahner's mines. Now Alissah and Kahner are both dead. For all we know Kahner had some mines around here that he didn't even tell us about. We could die any second just staying here. There are fifteen left, or fourteen, I guess, since we heard that cannon in the night. That's plenty of time for me to get lost without having to confront any of you.”

Ahnette watched him closely before nodding. “I understand. Do what you feel you need to do.”

Thank you,” Demetrius said darkly as he walked away from the others into solitude.


Jocelin had been watching Mina closely ever since she left their alliance, just waiting for the right moment to strike. Even when Mina had joined a new alliance, Jocelin had stayed close by. It was difficult, but she'd become very good at staying hidden. No one suspected a thing.

She had hoped to deal with Mina quickly and get back to her previous alliance, but she had seen enough over the past couple of days to know that the alliance she had once been a part of was no more. Still, Jocelin was hoping to at least find Fayth. She knew from the nightly summary of deaths that Fayth was still in the arena somewhere, and Jocelin hated to think of what the poor girl might be going through now.

Even though she had yet to finish off Mina, Jocelin was getting restless for human companionship, and she found herself seeking out the large group of five tributes. They weren't far from where Mina had set up camp, although Jocelin was sure that neither Mina nor this group knew of the other's presence. Coale and Etin were both present, and Jocelin found herself irrationally angry that Fayth had been left somewhere behind. Upon seeing Tiara though, Jocelin wondered if it was the brash career's fault.

Jocelin made eye contact with Coale as she entered the small clearing. The others made no move to attack her, as they clearly sensed that she was no threat at the moment.

Where is Fayth?” she questioned.

She left,” Coale explained in regret. “In the middle of the night, just like you. None of us saw her leave.”

Jocelin sighed as she sat down next to the boy. “Great. I planned to come back. I just wanted to get Mina, but then that proved more difficult than I thought. I still haven't gotten her, and now I don't know where Fayth is either.”

Who cares?” Tiara questioned. “You can't win with Crazy around. You're better off without her.”

Shut it, Tiara. I'm not in the mood,” Jocelin growled.

Tiara shrugged. “Whatever. Are you joining us then? I'll be nice enough to let you since Tifanee disappeared last night.”

Jocelin shivered at the hostile gleam in Tiara's eyes, but she shrugged and murmured, “Yeah, I'll join you.” She hadn't given up on Mina, but some human companionship was nice for the moment.


She's still alone,” Jocelin informed her five companions later that day. It was nearing sunset, and Jocelin had just returned from scoping out Mina's “camp.” “She doesn't seem likely to leave for the night. I want to get her before nightfall.”

Great,” Tiara exclaimed excitedly. “I'll come with you.”

No,” Jocelin replied firmly. “I want Coale to come. I know having back up is safer, but you'd steal the kill from me. With anyone else that'd be fine, but I'm getting Mina on my own.”

Tiara flopped back onto the log she'd been using as a stool and crossed her arms in indignation. “Fine. Go settle your grudge.”

I plan to,” Jocelin replied determinedly before walking away to do just that.

Mina would put up a fight, but at the last minute, Jocelin would see the determination leave her eyes. Her acceptance of death would break Jocelin in a way. Jocelin who had been so consumed with revenge that she hadn't stopped to think that she was killing a girl. But by then it would be too late to stop, and Jocelin would be forced to walk back to her companions with her first kill weighing heavily on her mind.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Fourth Hunger Games Chapter 10: Moon

The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.” - Carl Sandburg

I think we should split up,” Tiara announced bright and early that morning.

Tifanee appeared unsurprised, but the two male careers stared at her in shock.

You can't be serious,” Troy growled. “And end the careers for good?”

Tiara shrugged. “I think it's for the best. Either way, I'm out of here as soon as I finish my breakfast.”

And what exactly are you going to do?” Huntur questioned with a glare. “We're stronger together.”

We're strong apart too, or at least we are.” She spoke to Troy and Huntur while throwing a pointed look at Tifanee.

Fine. I'll leave the alliance,” Troy said. “It'd be fun to get some killing done on my own.”

Whatever,” Tifanee shrugged. “I can survive either way.”

She ignored the others' amused looks of disbelief.


Troy didn't like being alone. He had no trouble admitting that he enjoyed having people around to show off in front of, and an audience that he couldn't see wasn't cutting it. For that reason alone he wanted to form a new alliance. Having pathetic people to intimidate was almost as fun as the killing.

For that reason, Troy didn't kill Alissah, Demetrius, and Ezra when he discovered them. Sure, he could have easily enough, but why do that when he could have fun with them in a different way? The killing could always come later.

You three seem to be doing well,” Troy smirked as he swaggered up to them.

All three of them had taken defensive positions.

What do you want?” Demetrius growled.

Don't get too defensive,” Troy chuckled. “I'm not going to hurt you guys. I just want to join your alliance.”

The three other tributes shot each other skeptical looks.

Why should we trust you?” Ezra questioned. "You're a career.”

I am,” Troy acknowledged. “But that alliance is broken, and I was getting lonely. I thought you guys might be up for one more. I have some pretty valuable skills after all.”

Demetrius looked back at Alissah and Ezra before turning back to Troy. “Fine. You can join, but you're not standing guard at night. One of us will do it.”

Troy shrugged. “More sleep for me then.”


With the addition of Jocelin and Fayth, their alliance was getting crowded. Coale and Etin had seemed hesitant about them at first, but had finally fully embraced them into the group. Mina, however, wasn't feeling so accepting. She didn't appreciate being with the crazy girl, and she wasn't going to stick around with her much longer.

Knowing there was no need to change something that worked, she decided to slip off in the night just as she had with the careers. She'd be long gone before they awoke, and Mina would be free of the burden of caring for Fayth the Crazy. They could all get themselves killed if they wanted, but she wasn't going to suffer that fate because of someone else's weakness.


Jocelin stirred as she heard a rustling in the dark. Her senses having been fine tuned in the past several days, her hand immediately went for the knife resting near her head before she bolted up into a sitting position. Scanning the area quickly, Jocelin sensed no harm, but she quickly noticed Mina's absence. No one was up keeping watch, and Jocelin wondered if Mina had wandered off because she sensed something or if she had decided she'd had enough of this alliance. Probably the former. Mina hadn't taken too kindly to Fayth, and Jocelin couldn't blame her.

Even though she understood, Jocelin also felt a surge of anger at the other girl. It wasn't Fayth's fault that she had the attacks. She didn't deserve this more than any of the others, except perhaps the careers who deserved it all.

Jocelin listened closely to the fading footsteps and rustling of leaves that she could just barely hear in the distance. It was a chance. Mina had freely left the alliance, which made her a free target, and Jocelin was feeling a bit bitter at the moment. She spared a quick glance at the three peacefully sleeping forms. They would be safe while she was gone. She was sure of it. They'd hidden their location well. Jocelin would get Mina. Her first kill. She had faith that Coale and Etin would protect Fayth or at least have the decency to formally break off the alliance. If they didn't, they'd have an angry Jocelin to deal with too.


Chloe cowered in fear as the three tributes loomed over her.

Please don't hurt me!” she gasped. “Please!”

Coale looked back at Etin as he held the knife above the young girl.

I'll make you a deal,” Coale spoke in a low voice. “We just lost two members of our alliance. I'll let you live if you'll join us. We could use help handling her.” He pointed at the crazy girl Fayth over his shoulder.

Why haven't you killed her?” Chloe's confusion briefly made her forget her fear.

It's a bit hard when she's so innocent,” he muttered as he stood and stored his knife away. All hatred seemed forgotten as he extended a hand to Chloe to help her to her feet. She took it lightly, while keeping a close eye on the girl that now fascinated her.


What are you doing with them?” Mina questioned Troy sharply.

Mina had come across Alissah, who had been hunting, just moments ago. Alissah had asked Mina to join their alliance as she believed Mina's smarts would be valuable. It all seemed incredibly similar to when she had joined the careers, but it was better than being with Crazy, so Mina went with it. Then, she discovered Troy.

So, let me get this straight,” Mina said. “The careers break up for good, but then two of you wind up in the same alliance again?”

That would be correct,” Alissah smirked. “She's joining by the way.” It was thrown out casually, as if she didn't expect any protests from the other tributes.

Demetrius watched her closely before shrugging. “Okay. She has valuable skills that none of the rest of us do. This could be a good thing.”

Mina sure hoped it was.


Mina had only been with them for an hour or so when they happened upon Kahner's hideout.

Don't come any closer,” Kahner called out towards them with knife in hand. “The place is rigged.”

Rigged?” Demetrius questioned as he scanned the area.

I took the mines from the cornucopia and set them up around this place. Step on one and it'll blow.”

Demetrius nodded. “Nice one. I doubt anyone else would have thought of that.”

Mina cocked her head to the side. “How did you even know how to work them? Not much use for mines in District Six, and even I would have had to inspect one to figure out how to work it.”

I have my ways,” he smirked.

He should join us,” Alissah whispered to the others. “We can't get to him like this anyway. He's surrounded himself, and he suspects us. The best we can hope for his to have him on our side. We can use this place as a base.”

How do we know he won't misdirect us and make us all step on mines?” Ezra asked.

Alissah shrugged, “We don't.”

Demetrius considered for a moment before calling out. “Will you form an alliance with us, Kahner?”

Kahner smirked. “I guess so. I'm running a bit low on supplies, and you seem fixed in that regard.” He nodded towards the bags they all carried.


Tiara watched the group closely with a smirk playing across her lips. Somehow, they'd picked up the crazy girl. Tiara found it amusing, and she couldn't help but watch the show from afar. She'd perched herself up in a tree, a new trick she'd taken from Tifanee. She quite liked it up high where she could watch the other tributes without being detected.

Knowing she was out of reach from the spear they possessed, Tiara called down. “Hey, what are you guys up to down there?”

The four tributes looked up in shock.

Tiara,” Coale growled.

Tiara smirked wider. “Coale. How would you guys feel about me joining you?”

I don't think that's such a great idea,” Etin spoke up.

Aw,” Tiara pretended offense. “Why not? As a career, I could provide you valuable skills.”

You don't mind being in an alliance with me?” Skepticism filled Fayth's voice.

Tiara shrugged. “You're part of the appeal, honestly. You intrigue me.”

Fayth frowned. “I don't like this,” she muttered quietly to Etin.

Neither do it, but she could be helpful,” he answered.

Coale sighed. “How do we know we can trust you?”

Tiara shrugged. “Trusting me is your own problem.”

Etin looked at the others before speaking. “She doesn't keep watch, and we keep a close eye on her.”

Definitely,” Chloe agreed. “She could be helpful, but we can't afford to fully trust a career.”

You can come down now,” Coale called.

Tiara smirked once more as she swung herself down through the branches.


Kendrick watched the four closely. He found it interesting that Tiara, a career, had paired up with three other tributes. To be honest, he was tired of being in this arena alone with only his thoughts. It was haunting. And being with Tiara would help him get farther in the games. If she would pair up with the other three, he should be able to convince them that he should join. He hadn't had a decent training score, and he looked weak. But Kendrick knew how to use use his smarts, and he could convince them that was an advantage.

Tiara smirked as he appeared, but it didn't seem particularly threatening... yet. “Well, well, well,” she chuckled. “Kendrick Jobs. Are you here to fight?”

Nope,” Kendrick replied as confident as possible. “I don't fancy dying today. I was wondering if I could join your little alliance. You could use someone with my brain.”

Tiara considered him. She didn't seem to pay the other three much mind, although Kendrick noticed a look of thinly disguised contempt being thrown at her from Coale. “I think we could find some use for you.”


Gerald watched the group of tributes closely. He recognized Ezra immediately, as he'd had an alliance with the boy at the beginning of the games. He was surprised that Ezra had joined forces with not one but two tributes. Gerald also saw the District 3 tribute, who he knew to be Mina. Gerald hadn't been that fond of her. It would be fun to kill either her or the careers for his first kill of the games. Ezra he would let off the hook. He'd liked him well enough.

The problem would be killing one of the their own without being killed himself. He noticed that Kahner, another tribute Gerald hadn't been fond of, was slightly disconnected from the others. Kahner had been a moody boy during training, and that seemed to have stuck in the games, with him distancing himself from the others in his alliance.

Gerald knew he wouldn't have time to retrieve his arrow once he shot it. The others would react too quickly, and Gerald would be forced to run no matter what the outcome of his shot. He aimed with great concentration, determined to kill with just one arrow. He watched just long enough to see the arrow connect with Khaner's skull before running. A shout rang out just seconds before the cannon boomed, but no one followed Gerald as he fled.


Ahnette had remained hidden in the woods the entirety of the games. She didn't trust enough to approach anyone about alliances, and she was surviving just fine on her own. No one had managed to catch her yet. Still, she figured the Capitol would be getting tired of her reclusive ways, and something bad could happen if she didn't act soon. She'd heard the commotion of Kahner's death and come running. It was a chance to witness, if not experience, a scuffle.

When she'd come upon the scene, she'd watched the hovercraft pull Kahner's body up through the sky and away from the bloody scene still covering the ground. The others in Kahner's alliance seemed slightly shaken, although whether it was from sadness or fear that it would happen to them too Ahnette wasn't sure. The only one who seemed calm was Alissah, who remained lounging in her previous position, apparently having not moved at all. She watched her companions with slight interest as they sorted through Kahner's supplies and talked about leaving soon to get away from the blood now covering the ground.

Ahnette had no weapons, as she had fled the cornucopia as soon as the cannon sounded, but she noticed a knife tucked away safely in a holster on Alissah's belt. Ahnette knew that getting to it would be tricky, especially with Alissah's companions just feet away, but the risk seemed worth it. Ahnette hated the careers and everything they stood for, which only made her more determined as she sneaked quietly forward.

The knife was in her grasp in what seemed like an instant and suddenly it was plunging into Alissah's back. It happened too quickly for Ahnette to really process it, but soon Alissah was writhing around in pain and Ahnette was fleeing just as Gerald had before her. No one pursued her as they ran to the aid of the second of their alliance to be attacked in just moments. The knife was gone, having been wrenched out by Ahnette as she fled, and it was abundantly clear that Alissah wouldn't survive. Another career was gone, and Troy did little to hide his satisfaction as he watched Alissah die.


Tifanee was doing just fine on her own as she ambled along the forest floor. At the slightest hint of danger she would perch up in the trees. She'd attempted to travel through them instead, but that had proved more difficult than it had seemed. Unless she suddenly developed monkey-like skills, Tifanee was just fine walking on the ground.

Still, Tifanee would be lying if she didn't admit that she would rather be with people right now, even ones that might kill her. She was terrified being out here alone, and the slightest sounds made her scramble for the trees. Mockingjays, whose wonderful singing had thrilled her at home, now caused her to scramble under logs.

It was for that reason only that Tifanee was brave enough to approach the human-like sounds that she heard instead of running in fear. She kept to the trees. It was a longer journey but the safer option to the ground. The young girl groaned in frustration when she saw Tiara amongst the group. Of all the careers, Tiara's obnoxiousness frustrated Tifanee the most.

Tifanee did a scan of the area, and after seeing no visible long range weapons, was brave enough to call out, “Hey! Tiara!”

Tiara looked up before growling angrily. She calmed herself and smirked up at Tifanee before replying, “Still by yourself, I see.”

Yeah,” Tifanee sounded much calmer than she felt. “That's what I wanted to ask about actually. How would you feel if I joined your alliance. We were in one together once before after all.”

Tiara's lips puckered. “I suppose.” She looked around at her companions, who all shrugged. Coale had long given up on leadership with Tiara's continued presence, and his shrug was accompanied with a scowl.

Don't make me regret this, Munchkin,” Tiara shouted as Tifanee descended.

Munchkin,” Tifanee chuckled. “That's a new one.”


The alliance was getting crowded now. What had previously just been her, Coale, and Etin was now four extra tributes. None of them appreciated Fayth's presence, she was sure of it. Even the small and young Tifanee was of more value to the group. Fayth yearned for Jocelin's presence. Jocelin who had seemed to genuinely care and then had disappeared without a trace one night. Others would have thought it was a sign of disloyalty, not uncommon in these games, but Fayth thought differently. Jocelin probably didn't want to be the one to kill Fayth, so she got out as soon as possible. It was a smart move on her part, and Fayth meant to replicate it.

Not that Fayth was leaving anyone behind. They would all be happy to wake up tomorrow and find her gone. No one would morn the crazy girl who disappeared in the middle of the night. She'd be free to live the rest of her short live without the judgmental eyes of others.

With that bittersweet thought, Fayth set out into the darkened woods. Her only comfort came from the occasional glimpses of the bright, possibly artificially lit moon that hung high in the sky.