I feel the glass podium raise me upwards. My heart is hammering in my chest, making me feel as if something is banging a hammer against it.
I try to calm myself, to make myself take deep breaths. It doesn't work, and I end up panicking even more than I was before.
I can faintly hear the countdown through the frantic beat of my heat.
I swallow nervously and survey my surroundings. To the west is a flat, barren wasteland. Something that I'm sure I'd never survive in.
To the east there's a mountain range, through which a river flows. That's a good option, because there's water and mountains, which I can easily conceal myself in.
To the north, there's a wide expanse of water. I suppose this is the ocean that my friends sometimes dream about. There are icebergs floating about in it. It must be one cold ocean.
Behind me there are smaller, slipperier slopes, with lots of ice and rocks. I could fare well there, but the slippery bits I mightn't be able to deal with.
My eyes flick from left to right, trying to see what the other tributes are planning on doing. Some of them look like they're poised to run. Others, staring straight at the Cornucopia.
I know I can't go into the bloodbath. I am good at running, but not that good. I'm not that strong, either. I need to survive at least one level.
Then again, I desperately need a weapon. I spy a small knife not very far away from me. Knives are my speciality. If I could just grab that...
Where would I go after that, though?
I narrow it down to two options: behind me to the slippery slopes, or to the right of me where there are mountains.
Mountains are easy to hide in, but easy to fall off, too.
Slippery slopes are smaller and less dangerous, but I'm not good with slippery conditions and might just as easily fall off one.
The mountain range could block me from the worst of the wind, whereas the slippery slopes couldn't.
There are rocks in the slippery slope, too.
Behind or right? Right or behind?
I sprint towards the small knife, not caring whether anyone sees me. Speed is my main asset, now. I know I'm good at running. I only hope I'm good enough.
My fingers slide across the shiny metal handle of the knife, my palms sweaty. I try again, and still don't manage to pick it up. I'm too nervous and my hands are shaking furiously.
Quick, quick, I think, before someone sees you and you die.
Blood splatters onto my face from a killing beside me, and that instantly wakes me. I gasp, and feel my fingers close around the hilt of the knife. I'm up and running before I can fully register that I, Cade Cyr, have it, in my hands.
I see a flash of someone sprint towards the ocean as I run towards the mountains. Whoever that is, they are fast. Faster than me, and I thought I was fast. I know that if I ever get into a situation where I have to outrun whoever it is, then I'd better go onto the offensive, because I'd never win otherwise.
With a start of surprise I realize it is Paislee Tomasik, that other girl from my district, District 5. I hadn't thought she was athletic. I had always thought that she was a little rich girl, the politician's posh little daughter.
Then I'm into the mountains, seeing my breath coming out in front of me in freezing puffs, a knife in hand, alive. Triumphant.