The ACS/BBB “Hunger Games”: A Tribute’s Tale

Editor’s Note: Below is a firsthand narrative from Megan Cooper, the Highland Echo tribute who participated in the campus-wide Hunger Games hosted by ACS/BBB. 

My death was announced via Instagram on March 23, 2024. 

That morning, just hours before, I stumbled to my closet to find the most appropriate attire for such an occasion. A black thermal shirt, skinny jeans and Dr. Martens would be the last thing anyone would see me alive in. 

Like any normal day, I fed my cat and rushed out of the dorm; I was already late. I Googled “Death Row Inmates Final Meals List” as I sprinted to Pearson’s Dining Hall. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and today it would be my only. 

I thought long and hard about what the poor medics who would assess my cause of death would see. I thought it impolite to have a greedy meal. No one wants to dissect a twenty-year-old, let alone one filled with a half-digested feast. 

Two pieces of bacon, one small pancake and a handful of tater-tots would suffice. I felt ravenous from the anxiety, but hungerless from the fact that I was preparing to attend my funeral in just an hour. 

It would have been smart for me to spend this hour scoping out the arena, but the idea of stepping foot onto Pearson’s lawn made my spine shudder. Instead, I chose to return to my dorm.

My partner and I sat in silence, understandably. What do you say when you know you are going to die? Do you memorize the colors in their eyes? Do you apologize? I told him not to forget to feed my cat dinner, as that was the closest I could get to saying “I love you” before I left. 

The air was cold, and the wind was fierce. It was the kind of weather that made your lungs hurt—the kind of weather that made you think of waiting for the bus with your brother in the morning. He would never let you play in the street, for he was too scared you would get hurt. 

I arrived at Pearson’s lawn and fell in line. No one made eye contact, and no one dared utter a word. Compared to my competition, I was average in height, but leaner in muscle mass. I knew the key to my survival was to form an alliance or hide behind Anderson Hall until a poor, unfortunate soul happened upon me. 

Josh found me in line. He had a soft shade of red hair and hiking boots. We immediately formed an alliance, but I am unsure who needed the other more. He could hold a gun without looking out of place, and I could kill without flinching. 

He introduced me to Jonathan, a shorter man with a quiet voice, and McGee, a fellow ginger who was ex-military. Josh assured me that when it came down to it, we would take both of them out, respectively. They were a safe and smart choice. 

We walked to our marks and prepared for the cannon to sound. I could feel my heart spewing out of the tips of my fingers. I was electric. The cannon fired, and my ears immediately began to ring. My feet were running before I got the chance to think. 

I met Jonathan at a weapons box and got my hands on a magazine full of sixteen rounds and a gun that was just fine for someone like me. We hid behind a bush next to Thaw Hall to wait for Josh and McGee to reach us. 

That is when it happened: I got my first kill, a boy named Ian with blue hair and a good heart. I had no time to mourn him, and it never sunk in what I had done. I was a hunter, he was my prey, and I was driven by the necessity to provide for my family.

Our alliance endured through trials of combat, flight and confrontation until we reached the Center for Campus Ministry. With three of us depleted of ammunition, we found ourselves encircled by the sole remaining rival alliance. We found courage in our collective understanding that our death was sure and near. 

I ran faster than I had ever run before. The passing thoughts of my mother were fleeting. Miraculously, the four of us all made it to the other side of the arena free from harm. 

The resources in front of Anderson Hall were distributed equally among us. We tended to our wounds, restocked ammo and shared water. 

The other alliance was gaining on us, and we made the fatal decision to push through. I was gunned down in Humphrey’s Courtyard. My alliance could do nothing to save me, and we all knew I was dying. 

After writhing in pain until the delusions set in, I smelled the flowers. I was transported to childhood summers in the Strawberry Plains countryside braiding my best friend’s hair. It was sunny and warm. We were giggling as young girls do. She stood up after I had secured the elastic in her hair and tapped me on the shoulder to initiate a game of tag. 

She started running, and I had no choice but to follow her.

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