Chapter Thirty-Two: The Killing Fields
Word Count: 2117
Screaming Silas fell through empty space. Where not moments before a pod had encased him now was nothing more than empty air as he fell, the tarmacked ground rushed up to meet him at alarming speed. Hitting the gray earth Silas landed into a crouch. Pain lancing up his ankles and thighs as if he had landed on needles. Hopping to his feet to relieve the discomfort Silas heard a series of strange noises escape his mouth before the pain finally died away. By the Gods...he breathed as he took in his surroundings. The scale of his environment he'd been dropped into was mind-blowing. The buildings were taller than anything he'd ever seen, even in Capitol, but they were nothing but shells. Concrete skeletons of great structures that loomed over him like the bones of some great, forgotten civilisation of giants. Sporadic lampposts dotted the cracked streets along with burnt-out husks of ancient vehicles Silas hadn't know existed until he'd read through the libraries of the Training Centre. As far as he could recall they were called 'Auto-cars', whatever the hell they were.
Staring around this vast area Silas had never before felt so alone. Back home in the deserts of District Thirteen there was at least animals, the chirp of crickets, the slither marks of Sidewinder Rattlesnakes...but here. In this ghost town. Was nothing. Not the chirp of birds, singing of crickets, not even a breath of wind. It was desolate. If Silas didn't know better he would have said he'd woken up after a nuclear winter. 'Alright Silas...think.' he said aloud to himself. He didn't trust the silence. 'I need to get to the mountains, but I can't get there without water, food and weaponry...and a way to navigate.' raising a hand to cover his eyes Silas looked at the sun, it had always been his constant companion back home in the deserts, illuminating his path and giving him a point of direction...and staring up at the golden orb now. Silas knew that wasn't the real sun. It had risen in completely the wrong direction for this time of year as well as burning far to dimly for midsummer. It was nothing but a cheap imitation. And couldn't be relied upon. 'Alright Silas...you've got this. And you do know you're talking to yourself on national television don't you. Of course I do. Just checking.'
Wandering the streets of this urban wasteland Silas was wary of everything; this was the Arena of the Hunger Games. Nothing would be as it seems. And everything and their mother could kill him in here. He walked for what seemed like hours. Through street after street, alleyway after alleyway looking for something he could use...but there was nothing. Sitting a wrecked shell of a burnt out 'Auto-car' Silas stared around. Titan's words running through his mind. Look for not only what doesn't belong, but what is out of place, subtle differences in your environment. The world around you is a book; all you have to do is learn to read its words. Staring around the main street Silas remembered that everything about this place would be planned pre-set by some spectacled git in an office with a memo-pad. Glancing at some of the burnt out Auto-cars something clicked in his mind, each car was placed on a corner, the distance between them exactly the same, and those in the middle of the roads pointed left-right-left right as far as the eye could see. Squinting a question passed through his brain. So why are those cars pushed together?
Jogging over to them the Auto-cars were placed bumper to bumper. Scanning every facet of their construction Silas didn't find anything that screamed out at him, they both had large circular feet, an equally large circular control mechanism and six large gaps where windows should have sat. So why park them together. Looking at their bumpers Silas saw something, a tiny gap where the two blackened pieces of metal touched, there was a compartment. Excitement running through him Silas positioned his body against the second car, hunched himself over, and pushed with all his might against the blackened husk. At first its metal feet didn't move. But as he grunted and swore and pushed the Auto-car began to roll back, enough to reach into the space where its identification plate should have been. Careful not to cut himself on the jagged metal Silas fingered the large space but found nothing but the rough ash dust, then his fingers hit something smooth and cylindrical. 'Come on...come to daddy...' he said concentrating hard on picking up whatever it was with only two fingers. Silver glinted through the black ash.
His raven like joy of finding something shiny actually made him laugh as he pulled the health shard from the remains of the Auto-car. 'Alright. That's a good start...now. Weapons first. With weapons I can hunt, make shelter and defend myself.' breathing deep Silas let his training take hold of him. If I were designing a Game...where would I hide weapons in an area like this? The answer seemed obvious. Looking up at the tallest structure Silas felt a little unnerved. 'Of course...up somewhere stupidly high.' Looking over at the fake sun he found it just over the horizon. It would be dark soon and he wouldn't be able to search in the darkness. Concealing his health shard into one of the hidden pockets in his jacket Silas set off towards the wrecked remains of the skyscraper, it took him nearly an hour of steady running to reach it and by that time its top seemed so high as to actually look like it was holding up the sky above him. Maybe it was. This is the Arena. Kicking down the rusted door he entered a dry aired foyer, concrete dust covered every available surface and the walls creaked every few seconds as if telling him he wasn't welcome.
'Be quick Silas.' he told himself rushing up to the second floor looking for any elevators or escalators. There elevators, empty ones, with their cables cut. The stairs it is. He said dryly. Finding them Silas looked up. He shouldn't have looked up. It just made him want to leave. But he couldn't. He needed to get to Rory as soon as possible. He needed weapons. Running up the steps three at a time Silas very slowly made his way up the massive height of the tower, it just seemed endless, the higher he went the more dangerous the area became. Huge blocks of masonry fell from the ceiling crashing past him, steps broke apart beneath his feet and no matter how fast or powerfully he ran they just never...seemed...to end. It took well over two hours to reach the top most stair case, the stairs now being nothing more than concrete teeth that stuck out from the walls as foot holds. Eventually reaching a floor Silas leapt from the crumbled remains of the stair case with a satisfied grunt. He didn't know what it was. Some instinct or a part of Titan's training he'd never known about. Whatever it was. He listened to it. And it said DUCK!
Hitting the ground a throwing knife struck the wall where his head had been only moments before. 'Sh*it!' he swore scrambling behind cover.
'Nearly had you there dreadlocks!' shouted a voice he hadn't heard before.
'Almost.' Silas breathed, adrenaline pumping through his system. Staring at the fallen throwing knife Silas dived out from behind cover and picked it up. Two more clattered around him as he rolled into more cover. 'Missed me.' he taunted. A wicked smile across his face. Sitting with his back against the large slab of masonry Silas used the shining blade of the knife like a mirror, holding it around the corner and over his head in an attempt to get a view of his opponent. A flicker of movement made his stop. There he was. A pale skinned man with mousy brown hair and snivelling mischievous eyes. 'Peek-a-boo.'
'Thought you were the only one smart enough to come here knowing there'd be weapons Dreadlocks? Nuh-huh! And now I get to kill you and claim the First Blood prize.' said the rat faced man.
'Oh yeah...by my count I have one knife, you've thrown three, missed three and probably have two left.'
'Oh yeah! Well I got ten here...'
'No you don't.' said Silas confidently.
'How do you know?'
'Because the arena is far too cruel to let someone have thirteen throwing knives just for climbing a building...I'd say you've only got two left.' a smile crawled over his face as he saw the Rats reaction.
'So what! Two's still more than you and if you move I'll kill you!'
'Sure you will.' Silas smiled. 'You've missed three for three, which gives you an accuracy percentage of nought. Two knives remaining mean's you've got a seventeen percent chance of hitting me. While I've only got one. But I don't miss.' Silas let the comment sink in as the Rat's brain tried to keep up with the mathematics. 'Feeling lucky.' Silas smiled. The Rat grunted. Then sprang. Silas jumped with him. Spinning. Locking his arm out and throwing the blade in an arcing motion. The Rat threw both blades at the same time. Smart. Higher chance of hitting me. Silas thought as he fell through the air. Neither of them did, the second came incredibly close but only managed to slice the fabric of his jacket. His knife however. Hit home and true. Piercing the Rat's chest with a sickening squelch. Hitting the ground with a clatter of knives Silas rolled and quickly crossed the gap between them, the Rat looked down at the gleaming knife handle that stuck from his chest. Pain and sorrow racing across his face. 'I'm sorry.' Silas whispered. Grabbing the handle and twisting it. Slicing his heart in two. The Rat scratched at Silas's arms in an attempt to stop himself from falling backwards.
But it was pointless. His prone body staggered off his knife like a marionette with its strings cut. Wobbling unsteady legs shaking him towards the edge of the building, tripping over the edge the Rat didn't even scream. After collecting his knives and cleaning them Silas stood in the centre of the small roof, and was sick. The bile tasted foul as it ejected itself from his stomach. He'd just killed a man. His first kill...ever...hurling for several more minutes Silas focussed himself. 'I need to make a compass.' Walking out of the building unsteadily Silas finally found a tiny pot hole filled with water, drinking just enough to keep him sustain himself Silas sat cross legged as the sun set behind him. Taking a shard, needle like, piece of metal off one of the nearby Auto-cars Silas placed the withered leaf in the water, making sure there was enough room for it to spin without touching the bottom, before ripping a tiny piece of cloth from his shirt. Rolling the cloth into a tight ball using his saliva as a glue Silas placed it gently on top of the leaf, it didn't sink. Finally taking the thin shard of metal he rubbed its point over and over again on all sides with the blade of his knife, knowing that the more he did it the more friction would be caused.
And the more friction between metals the more electricity is produced, and if he could keep that energy stored within the shard, he knew it would create magnetism. When the sun was just about to dip below the horizon Silas pushed the shard through his tiny ball of cloth and placed them both onto the leaf. It sank beneath their weight slightly but still not enough to touch the bottom, Come on...come on. He said to himself watching the makeshift compass spin and spin, before its point was finally drawn to north. 'Gotcha!' he said smugly. Remembering the map that had been shown at the lottery Silas now knew which way was north and his position on the map...he also had a heading to Rory. 'Hang on baby...I'm coming.' he whispered as the sun set and the huge holo-display cracked to life across the sky. A mighty cannon fired somewhere and a video of Silas killing the Rat was played for him to watch, causing another roil of turbulence to crawl through his stomach. Then in massive letters below it, the words 'First Blood' appeared, then as if from nowhere. A small black parachute unfurled above his head. Carrying down a small black package.