Hello! I'm your host, the internet, where the odds are never in your favor.
Cast of characters: Jezebel writers and editors Kate, Erin, Kelly, Emma, Madeleine, Clover, Hillary, Anna, Mark, Kara and me. All contestants chosen on the basis of who was in the chat room when I came up with this dumb idea.
(We exclude Julianne on purpose, as her mental pop culture encyclopedia is too precious to be sacrificed for the purposes of entertainment. As the rest of us go to our deaths, she sends this message: "I am your stylist, I will not be fighting, I will be armed with a portable steamer and a couple of fabric pins, you will all look fabulous upon your deaths, pax unto eternity.")
The setting: A closed digital biome containing an assortment of weapons, terrain types, dangers, traps and supplies. You've seen the movies, you know the deal.
The situation: Everyone but one of us has to die.
Scenario 1: Everybody Fights
The cannon goes off at the beginning and it's fucking hell on earth for these so-called "feminist" bloggers. As the boom echoes around our overly sensitive ears, Madeleine realizes that 99% of the Hunger Games involves running and throws herself dramatically onto her own scythe to die.
Quickly, Kelly disappears to look for supplies. She finds a rifle and shoots Mark because he's (inexplicably) dressed up like a hamster. "But I was gonna cure you with salt for the winter," says Kelly, who'd just been thinking she was glad she put that copy of Little House in her bra. Demoralized, she sits down to make a plan B. Erin and Kate see this, exchange sharp looks of judgment and then grudging looks of mutual alliance. They disappear off into the jungle to talk shit.
Ten feet into tree cover, Kate panics silently, wondering if she's made a promise she doesn't want to keep. Her intuition is immediately confirmed when Erin, swollen with hubris, delivers a swift punch to the gut. "Whatever, bitch!" Erin screams gleefully, her smile as powerful as the sun. "We're all fucked, better get used to PAIN!"
Kate's buried rage flares wildly. She envelops Erin in a close, intimate hug, which terrifies Erin, weakening her to a point of strangle-ability. After the Strangling, Kate sprints off into the distance, yelling, "I'M FREAKING OUT!" She comes across Kelly and, out of reflex and excess energy, strangles her too.
I am wandering in a meadow having a flashback to the first time I fell in love. Kate sees me and makes the split-second decision to let me live. "What are you even doing right now?" she asks me, bemused. "Does affection have to be mutual for it to be truly understood?" I ask her. Kate is like, "Fuck this," and kills me without even saying how.
Staff boxing aficionados Kara and Hillary are moving back to back, a whirling dervish through the jungle, successfully boxing every creature that comes in their path. Suddenly, they're both taken out by Anna, who's climbed a tree with a bow and arrow and shoots them both through the top of the head. "Yes," she murmurs to herself quietly, reaching for a branch to steady herself from the rush of the kill. But then a colorful lizard crawls across her wrist, giving her an allergic reaction that paralyzes her. She falls to the forest floor and expires quietly.
Moments after Anna dies, Clover comes across her dead body and shrugs. "Don't need this now, I guess," she says, grabbing the bow and arrows.
Kate is still running. She sees Clover with the bow. They fight for it in a tug-of-war, their shouts driving up the number of tweets per minute generated for Gawker Media brand purposes, until a bee flies down Clover's throat and she dies. I knew bees liked clover but this is something else lol, tweets a prominent Redditor with the Twitter handle @VapeGoth69.
Emma has been lying down underneath a tree this whole time because the tree smells like gin and it's comforting. She stands up, surveying the situation. Kate walks up to her, frantic. "Who's left?" she says roughly.
A cold breeze flows through the dome. Emma flips her hair onto one side, twists it around her fingers and casually wraps it around Kate's neck. "Byee," she says.
Scenario 2: Everybody Strategizes
The cannon goes off and everyone thinks: alliances.
I sidle up to Emma trying to look aimless. "Sup," I say, my mind roiling with a thousand nameless fears.
"How was the rest of Saturday?" she asks casually. I say that it was fine, I'm just kind of out of it. "You want this cookie?" she asks me. I eat it, thinking how great my pal Emma is. My throat closes, I fall to the ground convulsing, and Emma goes off to find Kara and Erin all like That works....... I guess.....
Clover has been hiding in a hedge somewhere to whimper, eat snacks and gather her strength. All of a sudden she gets hype, fashions a crude dagger out of tree bark and kills a hamster for the fun of it. The hamster turns out to be Mark. Bye Mark!
Clover then adopts the strategy of social misdirection: she finds Kelly and behaves so uncharacteristically chattily that Kelly is seduced. Awash with vulnerability and desire, Kelly suggests that they go somewhere far away and seclude themselves. "I really think it'll be safer," she says. This idea strikes Clover as pretty lame. She changes her mind about the alliance, kills Kelly with a pistol and and goes off to find Kate instead. "Bitch seems crafty," she murmurs, with a smirk.
Within a clearing in the forest, Kara casually drops the information on Erin and Emma that she has a Camelbak full of Pinot Grige. "We could… drink it," Kara says slyly. "Oh really," Erin and Emma say, softening. They sit down on some nice-looking rocks and sip Franzia until they are telling super-weird stories ("His dick was beautiful, but it was also evil," is one of the phrases carried on the blood-spattered breeze).
Unfortunately, Kara's strategy to get her enemies drunk backfires when Emma and Erin silently count to three and gut her like a fish.
Meanwhile, Kate has somewhat grudgingly accepted Clover as a temporary ally. They come across Anna and Hillary, who have teamed up because they sit next to each other in the IRL blog cave. At the sight of Kate and Clover striding towards her with purpose and resolve, Anna faints and dies.
Clover steps directly onto and over her body. Kate's like, "O-kay!" Hillary's like, "Whoaaaa." The two of them panic, staring at Clover, whose smile grows wider and wider. She takes off the stylish navy bandana wound around her hair. "You two don't have any survival skills anyway," she says dispassionately, asphyxiating Kate. Hillary watches in horror and then takes off at a sprint.
Hillary runs into Emma and Erin and goes off about how Clover has gone totally nuts! Insane! Who knew! "I sorta knew, I guess," she says, catching herself. Emma and Erin are like, "Duude, go hide over there, definitely," but by "there" they mean "gaping snake pit." Hillary falls in and becomes one with the snakes. Emma and Erin go to find Clover and tell her she has to write another item about Kim Kardashian. Clover dies on the spot.
Madeleine, who has sort of been tuning out what's going on, sees Emma and Erin but doesn't realize they are the only two people left. She's been sitting with her back against a tree eating chips. She extends a hand to both of them. "Oh," she says casually. "Would you like a chip?"
Emma and Erin run towards the single outstretched chip at full speed, neither of them realizing the daggers haphazardly sheathed at their waists. They collide, piercing each others' internal organs, and bleed out. Madeleine watches, crunching.
"Did I win?" she asks the empty dome.
Scenario 3: Everybody Acts Realistically
Boom, the cannon of love and absolution.
Madeleine panics. She immediately starts trying to eat food as fast as she can and accidentally chokes to death within minutes.
Kelly electrocutes herself accidentally trying to get out of the dome.
Mark tries to walk softly and escape attention, but he is still dressed like a hamster. A larger animal eats him and he squeals incredibly loudly as he dies.
Hillary is at the edge of the water, curls tossing, talking to herself. "I mean, you better TELL me I'm doing the Hunger Games when I accept a job at a damn BLOG," she says, getting worked up. A shark jumps out of the water, entranced by her hair, and eats her.
Anna's pacing in circles frantically like, "AH! WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS!" A golden parachute drops from the ether; she has received a fancy eyeliner pen. "Oh, okay!" she says appreciatively, and applies the eyeliner—sans mirror, even—in a perfect wing. Too bad, Anna: the eyeliner is poisonous, sent by MRAs. Her eyes fall out and she dies.
Kara shades me to a place of fragility and then gets bored and starts trying to load Twitter. Big mistake: loading Twitter in the Hunger Games means that the @ replies come to life. A thousand trolls come out of the poisonously green grass; they carry Kara's body to their troll hole, screaming about how she is white. Kara dies.
Kate's like, "I'm a pacifist. I can't." Three predatory birds dive at her immediately. She dies.
Erin goes off into a corner to masturbate before committing seppuku.
Meanwhile, I am wandering around looking for hallucinogenic mushrooms. I find them, eat them, start walking towards what I think is the nexus of space-time, and blissfully give my body to the sea.
Emma finds a basketball-sized coconut and aimlessly throws it higher and higher through the looping branches of a tall tree until a monkey grabs the coconut and beans her with it; she dies immediately.
Clover, who has just been standing there watching, wins.
Post sponsored by Mockingjay the movie. Just kidding. But I wrote it because Mockingjay is out today.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby, who has secretly camouflaged herself with paint and survived it all.