This is the next installment of The Talons Hunger Games. It contains some mildly graphic violence and is not owned by me, but is instead owned by Suzanne Collins.
Bronwyn crouched in the forest, shaking as she watched Alisha whip out a knife and, with deadly precision, fling it at Tyler, high up in a tree. He fell, reminding Bronwyn of a baby bird learning to fly. Except he never flew. He hit the ground, yet another victim in a pointless war. The cannon boomed and Bronwyn fell to the ground, almost unable to grasp what had happened.
Bronwyn turned around and began hyperventilating quickly. She hated this. All of it. Why were they going to die? Why did they have to kill? She knew for a fact that if she did kill someone, her family would hate her.
Except… they would die, wouldn’t they? If she didn’t participate, that is. Bronwyn took a deep breath. She would kill. She would kill for her family. She would kill for her family. She stood up and turned away from the now dead body of Tyler and Alisha who was slowly being gripped by the insanity that had begun to plague each tribute’s mind. Smiling to herself, she slung her bow across her back and began to run. But, the moment that she began to set a pace for herself, she heard it. A bloodcurdling scream. Richard. She had no idea how she knew, but it was definitely him. What had happened? Stabbing? Arrow through the body? Bronwyn shook her head, forcing herself to think 22 left. Only 22.
Night began to fall, shadowing the entire arena in darkness. Stars glittered in the sky as a silhouette climbed higher, wind beginning to whip through the arena, the silhouette’s hair swaying. For a moment, Bronwyn stared out into the arena from her perch, high up in the tree. Would more die tonight? Undoubtedly, but hopefully one of them wouldn’t be her. Closing her eyes, Bronwyn pressed herself up against the tree and slowly drifted off.
Bronwyn awoke to the sound of a cannon and the anthem vibrating through the air. She studied the seal as it projected into the sky and watched as it showed the faces of the dead, suspended in air, the last time anyone would see them before they were placed in caskets and sent back home. Tyler, Jess, Richard, Daniel, Katie, Isaac, Sepehr, Emily. All of them gone.
“And there will be more.” Bronwyn whispered to herself. “Oh, God, will there be more.”
Morning came and Bronwyn wasn’t prepared. She had hardly slept that night after yet another cannon had roared, causing her to wonder who had died this time. She exhaled softly and packed up quickly, sliding down the tree ready for day 2. The moment she hit the ground, she heard the sound of feet running. She ran and leapt behind a bush, peering through and seeing, to her surprise, Leanne. She was standing in the middle of a clearing, holding a badminton racquet. Bronwyn frowned. A badminton racquet? What kind of a cruel trick was that? But suddenly, the small hole Bronwyn had been staring through darkened as someone stood in front of it.
“What are you doing? No – please, don’t!” Leanne’s voice had risen to a squeak, fear running through it.
Bronwyn stopped breathing, terrified and wondering who it was. But before anything could happen, there was a whistling noise, a strangled gulp and a soft thud.
“By the way, you were holding that racquet wrong.”
It had definitely been Derek, of that Bronwyn was sure. It was his voice and she was sure that Derek would choose knives as his weapon of choice. But it was so difficult to wrap her head around. So she didn’t. Instead, she forced herself to think of one thing: food. In the bag she had grabbed from the cornucopia, there had been a bow, 6 arrows, rope and a bottle of water. No food, whatsoever. It had been a day since she ate and she was definitely able to feel the effects. So Bronwyn began to walk out of the forest. She was unsure whether or not there were more people in the forest or the city, but the forest seemed a lot more dangerous. Besides, it seemed more likely that muttations would be in the forest.
Beginning to run, Bronwyn left the forest quickly. She wanted to leave as fast as possible, and after about an hour of running, she found herself on the edge of the city, her stomach growling and her mind buzzing. Ignoring this, Bronwyn entered the city, realising that being high up would be an advantage and began to climb up buildings.
Then she saw it. The streak of red hair and the slow pace through the streets of the old city. Toren Darby. She whipped her bow off her back and lodged an arrow in it. Then she paused. Would it really be the best idea to let anyone in the area to see where she was by shooting directly at him? No. Bronwyn crouched down and surveyed the area, her eye catching on a boulder that was balanced perfectly on the edge of a building.
Perfect. Bronwyn aimed her arrow perfectly and with a quick breath, let it fly.
It worked perfectly, the boulder wobbled, and crashed down upon Toren. Bronwyn grinned, packed up her stuff and darted down the building, racing over to where Toren’s body now lay. She leaned down and noted that he had nothing on him. No food, water or weapons.
“Pointless.” She snorted, standing again. At that exact moment, the sound of a cannon boomed and Bronwyn whipped around, wondering if anyone had seen her. She decided to make a run for it, but just as she did, she saw, to her surprise, Kim, running towards her.
“Bronwyn! Bronwyn! Oh, I’m so glad I found you!” Kim slowed down and grinned at Bronwyn, then stopped and blinked. “Is… that Toren? Bronwyn … what happened?”
Bronwyn looked away. “Kim… please leave. I don’t want an alliance and we’re both in trouble if you remain here out in the open.”
Kim stumbled backwards, shocked that her friend would turn away from her like that.
“I thought… we were friends.”
“There are no friends in the Hunger Games.” Bronwyn replied and turned away. Only a moment later, a cannon boomed and Bronwyn whipped around. Kim stood for a second, staring straight ahead.
“Goodbye, Bronwyn.” She whispered, and suddenly she fell to the ground, an ragged wound bleeding in her back, a figure behind her.
It was Clayton. Clayton who was holding a sword coated in Kim’s blood. Clayton who was staring right at her. Clayton who was fast and could easily get her right then. All these thoughts raced through her head and without thinking, she turned and ran, the sound of Clayton on her heel.
Bronwyn scanned her surroundings. She couldn’t run forever and she knew that Clayton could climb. All she could do was turn and fight. Still running, Bronwyn pulled her bow off her back and lodged an arrow in it. Turning around and still running, Bronwyn squinted slightly, pulled her arm back and let the deadly point fly. With a cry, it hit his side and he collapsed, leaving Bronwyn to lunge at a building and climb up. She collapsed onto the roof and savoured, for one second, the feeling that nobody was chasing her. And then she heard the cannon boom.