Rue has decided to trust me wholeheartedly. I know this because as soon as the anthem finishes she snuggles up against me and falls asleep. Nor do I have any misgivings about her, as I take no particular precautions. If she’d wanted me dead, all she would have had to do was disappear from that tree without pointing out the tracker jacker nest. Needling me, at the very back of my mind, is the obvious. Both of us can’t win these Games. But since the odds are still against either of us surviving, I manage to ignore the thought.
Besides, I’m distracted by my latest idea about the Careers and their supplies. Somehow Rue and I must find a way to destroy their food. I’m pretty sure feeding themselves will be a tremendous struggle. Traditionally, the Career tributes’ strategy is to get hold of all the food early on and work from there. The years when they have not protected it well – one year a pack of hideous reptiles destroyed it, another a Gamemakers’ flood washed it away – those are usually the years that tributes from other districts have won. That the Careers have been better red growing up is actually to their disadvantage, because they don’t know how to be hungry. Not the way Rue and I do.
But I’m too exhausted to begin any detailed plan tonight. My wounds recovering, my mind still a bit foggy from the venom, and the warmth of Rue at my side, her head cradled on my shoulder, have given me a sense of security. I realize, for the first time, how very lonely I’ve been in the arena. How comforting the presence of another human being can be. I give in to my drowsiness, resolving that tomorrow the tables will turn. Tomorrow, it’s the Careers who will have to watch their backs.
The boom of the cannon jolts me awake. The sky’s streaked with light, the birds already chattering. Rue perches in a branch across from me, her hands cupping something. We wait, listening for more
shots, but there aren’t any.
“Who do you think that was?” I can’t help thinking of Peeta.
“I don’t know. It could have been any of the others,” says Rue. “I guess we’ll know tonight.”
“Who’s left again?” I ask.
“The boy from District One. Both tributes from Two. The boy from Three. Thresh and me. And you and Peeta,” says Rue. “That’s eight. Wait, and the boy from Ten, the one with the bad leg. He makes nine.”
There’s someone else, but neither of us can remember who it is.
“I wonder how that last one died,” says Rue.
“No telling. But it’s good for us. A death should hold the crowd for a bit. Maybe we’ll have time to do something before the Gamemakers decide things have been moving too slowly,” I say. “What’s in your hands?”
“Breakfast,” says Rue. She holds them out revealing two big eggs.
“What kind are those?” I ask.
“Not sure. There’s a marshy area over that way. Some kind of waterbird,” she says.
It’d be nice to cook them, but neither of us wants to risk a fire. My guess is the tribute who died today was a victim of the Careers, which means they’ve recovered enough to be back in the Games. We each suck out the insides of an egg, eat a rabbit leg and some berries. It’s a good breakfast anywhere.
“Ready to do it?” I say, pulling on my pack.
“Do what?” says Rue, but by the way she bounces up, you can tell she’s up for whatever I propose.
“Today we take out the Careers’ food,” I say.
“Really? How?” You can see the glint of excitement in her eyes. In this way, she’s exactly the opposite of Prim for whom adventures are an ordeal.