Sixty seconds. That's how long we're required to stand on our metal circles before the sound of a gong releases us.
The blade lodges in the pack.
The woods begin to evolve, and the pines are intermixed with a variety of trees, some I recognize, some completely foreign to me.
I carefully lay out provisions. One thin black sleeping bag that reflects body heat. A pack of crackers. A pack of dried beef strips. A bottle of iodine. A box of wooden matches. A small coil of wire. A pair of sunglasses. And a two-litre plastic bottle with a cap for carrying water that's bone dry.
I climb up, sticking to the stronger branches close to the trunk, and find a sturdy fork for my bed. It takes some doing, but I arrange the sleeping bag in a relatively comfortable manner. I place my backpack in the foot of the bag, then slide in after it.
I take a deep breath as the faces of the eleven dead tributes begin and tick them off one by one on my fingers.