Your body trembled; anxiety reaching high levels as you swallowed hard, inhaling deeply in a weak attempt to calm yourself. In the world you lived in-- the one you desperately wished to be normal, there was something that should have never existed.
Twenty-four people were chosen. It didn’t matter who they were-- they were tributes. They were young. They were innocent.
But it only lasted for so long.
You had always managed not to get chosen, thankfully, but every time the drawing happened, you were on the edge of insanity. This time had been no different.
Silence among the crowd, your blood ran cold at a familiar word.
Desperation brought out the worst in people. Everyone did whatever was necessary to survive, regardless of the consequences. You never wanted to become like that. You swore to never succumb to such actions.
But you had to.
Like everyone else, you had something-- someone to live for. And you certainly wouldn’t go without a fight.
At first, you wanted to do nothing. Stay in one location, avoid all the action. But they were watching-- they were always watching. The Gamermakers had the ability to change the environment, to cause certain things to happen in an area where someone remained idle. You would be the first one dead if you did that.
So you fought.
It was horrifying. It was hard enough finding food and shelter-- but to kill another? You thought you would never do such a thing.
It was the third day when you ran into a tribute.
He was ruthless, but reckless. You tried to convince him to leave. Not only because you were scared, but because you wanted to avoid the inevitable. Regardless of being called a coward, you stood your ground, silently pleading that he would just go.
Someone else could take care of him. Not you.
And he attacked. Your body froze for a brief moment before the adrenaline rushed through, instincts kicking in as you dodged the attack. Noting his vulnerable position, your grip tightened on the dagger as you took the opportunity to strike.
The weapon was adorned with red as you stood before him, wide eyes staring in horror at his body. You didn’t know how long you remained there, the cannon breaking you from the trance.
i am not a ｍｏｎｓｔｅｒ.
The words echoed endlessly in your mind.
You never believed it.
Counting the days was difficult. One moment, the sun would shine brilliantly-- the next, the stars would watch over you.
There was one thing you knew: there were only three tributes left, yourself included.
You were close. Close to freedom, close to safety-- close to home.
But would you be the same after it all?
It never became easier to get rid of the others. The pleas, the taunts, the cries-- they haunted you. You mourned for them when you shouldn’t have.
You never knew their stories. Did they have family back home? Did their loved one wait for them back home?
It was best not to know.
You weren’t completely a monster. Part of you was still there-- still human. That was all that was needed to keep going.
Hand grazing over the wound in your arm, you grimaced in pain, a frown crossing your lips. It had only happened a couple of days ago. Your morale had dropped to an all time low, weak spots exposed. The girl easily had hurt you, teeth bared as she viciously attacked you.
She was smarter than the others-- smarter than you. But you were faster.
The remembrance of the encounter made you feel ill, eyesight blurring at the ruthlessness you displayed.
She was your third kill, and certainly not the last one.
Focusing on the unclear route ahead in the forest, you forced yourself to walk, wary of any traps that could be camouflaged. The silence hardly provided comfort, an uneasy feeling overwhelming you with each step taken.
The soft crunch of the leaves lingered behind you, causing every muscle in your body to tense. Before you could even turn, a small yelp escaped your lips as your body was slammed against a tree trunk, a hand covering your mouth in order to silence your protests.
Wincing from the impact, you tensed up at the cool feeling against your neck. Distress distracted you from the throbbing pain felt at the back of your head, defiant eyes meeting your enemy’s. His jaw clenched as he studied you carefully, easily seeing the fear that lingered beneath the facade. Hesitance was dismissed as you swiftly kicked him in the stomach, causing him to jerk back. Trembling fingers struggled to draw the dagger, frightened expression upon your face as you waited for his next move.
“You look like a fucking puppy,” he spoke between pained breaths, still recovering from your hit. There was no fear in his tone; it was merely apathy. “I’m surprised you even got this far.”
Surprise overcame your anger, the fear sinking only the slightest bit. The other tributes often mocked each other before fighting to the death-- this, however, felt different. Regardless, you still felt offense, but that was easily pushed aside as you observed him for any quick motions.
“I’m surprised this damn competition still exists,” you snapped back, bitterness growing with every word spoken.
Brows raised at the hostility in your tone; you had appeared to helpless to him-- he had simply expected you to beg for mercy. It was rather interesting to see-- if there was anyone who didn’t ask him to spare their life, they believed attacking him immediately would catch him off guard.
And you-- you didn’t have that crazed look in your eyes, nor did you react like the others.
What a shame. It was too late to get allies now. Had he encountered you in the beginning, he would have considered protecting you-- but only for the time being.
But he couldn’t deny the horrific idea of this-- this whole damn thing. Surviving on the streets was difficult enough, especially with him taking care of Isabel and Farlan-- fighting was no stranger to him. But those who had normal lives shouldn’t have had to experience this. He contemplated the thought for a moment, never breaking the eye contact with you. Lips parted to form a response, though your words immediately caused his mind to go blank.
“I want to go home.”
The statement was soft spoken, almost said with shame. You were sure that the ones watching this sickening contest were laughing at you for being so childish.
But he did not laugh.
You were far too innocent to be in these games-- how you survived, he would never understand.
And part of him wished you hadn’t survived. You had managed to keep hold of your humanity-- he didn’t want to be the one to kill you.
A hint of pity surfaced in blue eyes, his grasp on the weapon tightening ever so slightly,