|The 18th: Standing in their Graves
Author: Chaos In Her Wake PM
It is time yet again for children to become murderers, time again for twenty-four young lives to be sacrificed. Muttations will tear at naked flesh and cruel laughs will echo through the dreaded Arena. Under the cruel hand of an evil Head Gamemaker, who will be condemned to a life worse than death? May the odds be ever in your favor. I do not own THG.Rated: Fiction T - English - Other tributes - Chapters: 17 - Words: 78,064 - Reviews: 325 - Favs: 29 - Follows: 30 - Updated: 05-12-13 - Published: 01-10-13 - id: 8895722
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
District Four time! :) This is a Career district, don't forget! Our boy Cal McCullin is from stareyed-in-LA and our girl Sawyer Aurora is from SafeEyesOpen. I hope you like it, so R&R :)
DISTRICT FOUR MALE: CALDER MCCULLIN
The sun is shining warm on the sand and the wind whips my shaggy sandy hair across my face. The waves are stirred into a picture-perfect scene. Nothing's wrong, there's nothing out of place. The day is sweet.
I grab my surfboard and rush into the blue tide, whooping and splashing with every bit of energy I can muster- which is a lot. The guys follow me in, equally loud. We're soon knee-deep in the water and I look around at them with a mischievous grin on my face. "Go!" I shout with a laugh. I slide onto my board and start paddling. Further out in the ocean there are bigger waves, not really good for surfing but they'll still be fun to mess around on.
Pedro cuts through the water ahead of me, using his huge bulk to push copious amounts of water out of his way. The fifteen-year-old is built like a whale or something. He gets out into the deep water fast and sits on his board, waiting for us.
"Dude, hold up!" I call out, paddling as fast as I can to close the distance between us. Pedro splashes water at me as I approach, but I'm used to the salty spray after years of swimming in it and it doesn't hinder me. I'm next to the other boy in no time flat. Glancing behind me, I see Hudson, Caliban, and Caliban's little brother Ferdinand catching up. "Quick, bro, keep going!" Pedro and I move out even further, keeping our friends from reaching us. I manage a laugh as I swim without getting too much saltwater in my mouth.
"Let 'em catch up now, Cal," Pedro says as he stops paddling forward. I reluctantly halt as well and watch for the others. There's Caliban, and Ferdinand… Hudson?
All of a sudden I'm tugged off my board and pulled underwater. "Who-bglpgfgfblg!" It takes a while for me to pop back to the surface and splutter out all of the water I managed to take in, but once I'm safely on my surfboard again I know exactly who took me down.
"Hudson, dude, you need to stop letting your mom cut your hair." I glance at the boy's awkward bowl cut, not improved by its soaking.
"Bro, she practically ties me down. It's not like I want this stupid pudding-bowl haircut." Hudson tries to tip my board but I push him back casually. It gives him a sort of cowlick, at which I can't help but guffaw.
"There. That's better!"
Caliban, who has finally made it over to our location, snorts with laughter. Ferdinand smiles but doesn't get excited or rambunctious. Pfft. I've told him a thousand times that we'll eventually get that seriousness out of him. That kid is bogus.
I slip off my board into the warm water, treading water for a few moments before floating on my back. "You know, dudes, the waves aren't too good today."
"Your point being, bro?" Caliban asks impatiently.
I shoot him an impish grin. "Sweet. You guys never let me down. We don't care about these waves. Let's surf anyway!" I lunge for my surfboard, hauling myself onto it and preparing for the next wave. They're enough to surf on, but it's nothing good enough for cool moves. But you just gotta go with the flow. For me, that means literally.
Ferdinand is struggling to make it on his board. I roll my eyes and paddle over to the younger boy, lifting him into the right position by his soggy shirt collar. Caliban nods to show thanks and then, quick as the silver fish that swim beneath us, we're off. The wave is coming.
With practiced motions I maneuver into the swell of water and emerge on the crest of the wave. It's easy now to stand on the surfboard, but I remember when I wobbled every time I tried to rise. Hudson still shakes a little, and Ferdinand can barely stay upright. Even as I catch a glimpse of the fourteen-year-old, he wipes out. "Gnarly," I laugh to myself.
No matter how many times I do this, it holds the same deep thrill. The water, the exhilarating rush of speed and salty spray, the wild laughter of my bros: they all feed the same wonder that surfing always brings.
As the wave rolls toward the shore my bros back off and begin to move back out to wait for the next good crest. Feeling wilder than ever, I don't stop. It's a crazy feeling, but here I'm in control of myself, more than anywhere else.
But it all comes crashing down as I wipe out, and wipe out hard. I could have stopped myself, really. I just… didn't. I didn't want to stay up. I didn't want the authority. I wanted to fall. Because a fall keeps you safe. Stay up too long and you'll get hurt bad. A wipe out on the rocks, a run-in with a sandbar… it's better to let yourself wipe out in the water.
I break the surface of the water and grab at my board, which is gently floating a little way away. It's getting late in the morning and I can't be out here for much longer, no matter how important surfing with my bros is to me. "Hey, guys!"
"What is it, dude?" Caliban's voice is faint over the dull roar of the breakers. They're pretty far out, and I'm almost at the shore.
"We've gotta come in!" I can barely hear the groans of disappointment from Pedro and Caliban, but Ferdinand and Hudson come paddling right away. I drag my surfboard onto the sand and wait for the others to arrive. A few minutes pass before they heave themselves onto land beside me.
"What is this, dude?" Ferdinand pipes up, "There was a good wave coming!"
"The one day we can't stay out all morning, bro. Reaping day. My mom drilled it into my skull."
"Hey, my mom might give terrible haircuts, but you listen to yours," Hudson jokes, poking me in the side.
"I bet I'd have a similarly god-awful style to yours if I didn't listen!" I elbow Hudson back. Before long we've lapsed into a poke fight and Pedro's laughing his head off. The mirth is infectious and soon we're all lying back in the sand, chortling, clutching our sides.
"Bros… I seriously need to get going," I say, standing up and holding my surfboard under one arm. Still chuckling, they wave me off and stay in the sand. I leave them with one last grin and turn my back on the beach.
My home isn't far from the water since Dad works on the fishing vessels, but even by the time I reach the house my shorts, full of sand, are chafing against my legs and my sun-lightened hair is stiffened with salt.
Walking in the door unheralded, I dash upstairs and practically leap into the shower, letting the salt and sand flow away from my body. However much I love the ocean I'd rather not have its residue caked on me. After I dry off and pull on underwear and a blue-green shirt, I realize I don't know where my pants are.
So I go questing. "Mom? Dad? Dillan?"
"Yeah, Cal?" Mom is the only one who replies but I know the others have heard me.
"Where are my pants?"
"They had better be on your body, boy," Dillan remarks from downstairs. I can't pass up the opportunity- I rush downstairs and sit on my older brother's lap.
"You couldn't be farther from the truth, Dill!"
He tries to shove me away or otherwise escape. "Get off!" I laugh but refuse to move until Mom comes into the room.
"Cal, leave your brother alone. There's a pair of khakis in the laundry room, I think." I slide off Dillan's lap, laughing, and go to grab the pants.
"You can be such a nuisance sometimes, Cal," Dillan calls after me.
"You just don't have a sense of humor, bro," I reply, patting him on the head as I pass by his chair. The pants are indeed in the laundry room. They're stiffened with salt and I grimace as I put them on but they'll have to do, I suppose.
"It's time to go to the ceremony, boys," a gruff voice announces.
"Yeah, Dad, sure. On my way," I say, mock-saluting him as I bound toward the door.
"Do you actually plan on wearing that?" my old man sighs.
I glance down. "Yeah… why?" Nothing seems too bad about it.
"Not the clothes, Calder." Dad gestures to my ear. I reach up and tap the gold earring hesitantly.
"Yeah, dude. Like always." I'd feel almost naked without it.
Dad gives me a slightly irritated look, like 'be a man, Cal,' before waving me out the door. I plunge into the street, barreling up toward the Justice Building. It's quite a run, especially after surfing this morning. But it clears my head and gives me something to focus on for a while, so when I finally end up at the registration table I'm sore but in good spirits.
The man pricks my finger quickly- I barely notice the pain but it's there- and then I'm off to my section with the other sixteen-year-olds. Basically I'm here to stand around for half an hour or so while two kids go off to the Games and then I'll be back out on the ocean, spear fishing with Dad or surfing with my bros.
Well, speak of the devil. There they are now.
Caliban and Hudson catch sight of me before they even get checked in, and Hudson flails his arms in the air frantically until I acknowledge him. Before another minute has passed they're at my side, and we're laughing and joking and talking about the waves from this morning.
We're still messing around when the Mayor steps forward. In fact, just as the crowd goes silent for the ceremony, Hudson brings up one of his puns. "Practice safe eating- use condiments!"
And everyone's eyes are on us. Trying to hide the crimson flush that's creeping up my neck, I wave and put on a huge smile. All the guys around me crack up, and even one of the mentors, a serious man called Kindi, quirks his lips in a faint smile. The other, a young lady we all call Mags, just rolls her eyes.
The Treaty is rushed and boring as ever, but when the escort steps up even my bros and I hush up. Hortia has made a return from last year, in the exact same magenta ribbons and swirly mauve tattoos.
She gives me the creeps. I always thought Capitol chicks were supposed to be cute, but this woman's far from that.
"Well, time again for the selection of two courageous tributes to compete in the annual Hunger games!" she shrieks, "Last year, we did all right, didn't we District Four?" A halfhearted cheer is the response, in which I don't participate. Alex and Camilla were good people who didn't deserve to die. "Ladies, you're first! Your tribute is- Nixie Edhla!" The girl is my age; I know her from school. However, she's not going to be competing.
Already there's a volunteer onstage, a seriously hot girl with reddish-brown hair, green eyes, and a nice tan. She hasn't called out, she didn't run up. She just… got there suddenly. Nixie doesn't even have to come up to the stage.
"I'm Sawyer Aurora," the girl says simply, "I'm eighteen. And I'm your female tribute." The district claps politely and the girl smiles. She's strong though, definitely trained.
"Now for your boy!" Hortia cries out, snatching up a name, "Calder McCullin!" I shrug, sauntering up to the stage. Everyone knows that Rodrigo Palos-Verdes is going to volunteer. "Are there any volunteers?"
Rodrigo doesn't step up. In fact, I can see him from here, balanced on crutches in the eighteens section- my brother is standing near him with a blank look on his face.
"Oh dude, this is totally bogus!"
DISTRICT FOUR FEMALE: SAWYER AURORA
Nobody else is going to make it onto that stage today- that is for sure. Today is my day and my day alone.
My only problem is getting up there. I may be faster than the other girls who plan to volunteer but I don't know when they'll make a break for it. I can't let them surprise me even for a split second. But where do I stand? If I move to the front of the eighteens section I won't be able to observe the others and then I would lose an advantage. If I stand further back, someone closer to the stage could get enough of a head start that I wouldn't be able to catch up in the short time it takes to get to the escort.
Really, the best place is the steps of the Justice Building. It's the only way to make sure that I'm the only one with a chance of success in volunteering. But that's sort of a bad idea. I'd get thrown off before the ceremony even started. I scan the front of the Justice Building, looking for a good spot to wait. No, not a good spot- a good spot would be in the allotted section. I want the best spot.
My eyes land not on a location but a person. A young Peacekeeper, no older than twenty. I don't recognize him, but I can easily see that he's nervous. He's terrible at hiding emotions- he must still be in training. I bet this is his first visit to District Four. Perfect.
Instead of walking to the roped-off areas, I strut to the man's side, flashing him a smile as he turns to me. "Do you need anything, miss?" he stutters, flicking a piece of fair hair out of his eyes.
"Oh, no, I'm fine. A little sore after checking in, maybe, but I'm fine." I hold up my finger, which has a tiny bead of blood on it from where they pricked my finger, and pout melodramatically. It doesn't hurt at all.
"Well, in that case, ma'am, I'll have to ask you to return to the sectioned areas." He seems relieved that I'm not distressed and asking for help.
"Aw, I just wanted to chat! You're new here, aren't you? You're not one of the usual Peacekeepers." He seems suspicious but I smile again and his gaze softens a bit. Pfft. Boys. So easy to manipulate.
"Yeah, I'm new. Just started Peacekeeper training six months ago in District Two and this is my first assignment." The words spill out easily and I nod and smile.
"That's so cool! Is being a Peacekeeper, like, totally hardcore and stuff?" Ugh, I hate this ditzy side of my interactions with others. But it gets boys to talk to me and right now that's what I need to happen.
"Oh yeah, there's a lot of hard work involved. I'm strong though, it's no big deal." Oh, look at him, he's trying to impress me. Loser. I bet he's barely scraping past this training. I giggle vapidly and twist a piece of my dark hair around my finger before he speaks again. "In fact, I'm one of the strongest ones in training. Once, we were learning how to take people down in hand-to-hand combat, and I beat our officer!"
What a liar. I can see it in his eyes. He's trying so hard it's almost cute. I look at him admiringly nonetheless and I can practically see his ego swelling. "So, why are you here, gorgeous?" And now he's flirting.
I'm aware of the Mayor stepping forward to read the Treaty of Treason, but I've got this boy so focused on me that he doesn't try to send me back to my spot. "Well, you're kinda cute. And I just had this terrible breakup with my boyfriend and I was thinking that maybe there was someone nice that could make me feel a bit better. District Four boys are so overrated!"
There he goes again, puffing out his chest in pride. Tugging on my dress to reveal an extra half-inch of skin, I step a little closer to the young man. I now have a perfect view of the other girls and the stage, and I'm much closer to the steps than any of the others.
Out of nowhere, the district bursts into laughter. I freak out a little bit with my nerves, but heads are turned towards the boys' reaping sections and so I ignore it as best I can. I keep flirting with the boy and smiling and giggling and trying not to gag at how shallow I must seem, but I focus on the escort now.
"Well, time again for the selection of two courageous tributes to compete in the annual Hunger games!" Hortia shrieks, "Last year, we did all right, didn't we District Four?"
"So, I'm stationed at the marina in the afternoons if you ever want to meet me there…" Cute Peacekeeper Boy tells me. This time, I don't even pretend to listen. I begin to creep closer to the Justice Building.
"Ladies, you're first! Your tribute is- Nixie Edhla!" I know the girl. She's sixteen, popular, and bubbly. We've talked a few times, we're not friends but she's nice enough. And she's not going into the Games.
I see a few other girls tense up to make a run for the stage, but a few quick strides and I'm standing next to the escort. The shocked looks from the crowd are priceless- it must have looked like I appeared out of nowhere.
I win. I always win.
Everyone knows I'm not Nixie- even garish Hortia realizes that I'm a volunteer. I pluck the microphone from her hands and introduce myself. "I'm Sawyer Aurora. I'm eighteen. And I'm your female tribute." The district cheers at the powerful tribute they've gotten and I hand back the microphone, satisfied. The sour, crestfallen looks on the other volunteers' faces are hilarious.
"Now for your boy!" Hortia, even more enthusiastic (who knew it was possible?), practically floats over to the boys' bowl and chooses a name. "Calder McCullin!" A tall, sandy haired boy with one gold earring strolls casually up to the stage. Hortia looks around expectantly for any early volunteers, but she resorts to asking directly.
Nobody moves. The boy who scared everyone else into not volunteering, Rodrigo, has broken his leg. No one is prepared to take his place.
It takes Calder a few seconds, but when he realizes it, he reels backwards. "Dude, this is totally bogus!"
I'm momentarily stunned by his slang, but I snap back to focus when I have to hold back a snort of laughter. This is my district partner? He's strong enough, I suppose, but nowhere close to managing a victory with me in the Arena. We shake hands firmly.
"Your tributes for the Eighteenth Annual Hunger Games- Sawyer Aurora and Calder McCullin!" Hortia cries. With that, we move into the Justice Building. Calder doesn't seem too shocked- upset and distressed yes, but not shocked.
I will have exactly one visitor, even though I have not made myself an outcast in the district. My daddy is the one who knows me well enough, who cares about me enough to come say goodbye.
The door slams open and he pushes through the Peacekeepers to me. "You did it!" he gruffly exclaims, "Sawyer, you were pefect! Especially good job ensuring your position as tribute. That kid Peacekeeper never saw that coming!"
"I'm doing this for you, Daddy!" I reply sweetly- genuinely, "I'm so glad I did it right!"
Daddy kneels down in front of me and places his hands on my shoulders, his bald head gleaming under the lights of the room. "Sawyer, when your mother left you with me I promised that I would raise you right. And, to the best of my abilities, I have. I taught you how to make your own way in this world, how to get the things you need, how to defend yourself, and how to fight. Winning the Games will be a piece of cake for you, sweetheart."
"I couldn't have had a better mentor!" I fling my arms around his neck.
"But you told me that you were volunteering for the business. Not the glory, not the fame- good, because that doesn't matter."
"Whatever information you need, I can get it for you."
"I have indeed taught you well, daughter." Daddy says, smiling at me.
"So, what stuff do you need? From whom? Where can I find them, and what do I need to do?" Daddy's business, which helps people erase their criminal records, is always in need of new information for the current clients. And information in such an illegal business doesn't come easy.
"I need database code updates from the Peacekeeper Headquarters. Find Aurelius Casca and tell him to get them to me. I need the current rebel activities log information from Ligarius Alexandros. For those, wait until after the Games and then you'll have to actually get into the log server, encrypt the entries for the past month, and send them to me, scrambling the data. You know how, right?" I nod. Daddy's taught me basic technological knowhow. "And last, tell Cassius Marullus that he has been wiped from the criminal records. He's a Gamemaker. You'll see him."
I store away the information for eventual accomplishment. I wasn't instructed to volunteer. I chose to, to help Daddy. Because I wanted to assist the business and I know I can win the Games. He's done so much for me, this is how I can repay him.
"All right, Daddy, I can do that."
"Good girl. Just like always, don't get caught. And come home. I really love you, Sawyer."
"I love you too, Daddy." He rises to his feet, and even though I'm tall I have to stand on my tiptoes to give him a kiss and a good hug. He wraps me in his tree-trunk arms and I smile into his shoulder. I feel like a little girl, just sharing an embrace with her father. I almost feel normal.
"You're strong. We know that. But even the strongest have to watch their backs. Never let your guard down, even for a second."
"Of course I won't. You've taught me everything I need to know."
"There are some things we have to learn for ourselves, Sawyer. For me, it was how to raise a child. For you, well, I'm not sure exactly what it will be, but it's coming fast. Be ready."
I hug Daddy again. "You're the best dad a girl could ever want," I whisper, "Thank you for loving me."
"After your mother left, I couldn't leave you, Sawyer. I couldn't leave then, and I never will. In fact it's hard letting you do this, even though you're more than capable, because there is always a chance that I could lose you. Don't let yourself become too arrogant. I love you, sweetheart."
"I love you too. I will live, and come home, Daddy. I promise. I love you."
And he leaves and I'm alone.
And I'm ready to win. I always win.
Yes, there you have it, District Four! Dear funny Cal and confident, manipulative Sawyer. And a quick reminder that the more you review, the greater chance your character has at survival. :3 So tell me what you thought!