|And Panem Will Know
Author: Bizarbara Rose PM
The newsboys of District 6 live a "fine life" until the reaping of the annual Hunger Games. Heavy prices are due in 8 when David wants to protect his little brother, and the whole game changes when a mysterious Capitol girl gets involved... (I'm bad at summaries but I'm ducking around spoilers.) Multi-chap, PLEASE review if you read, good or bad. Constructive crit appreciated.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi - Jack K. & Crutchie - Chapters: 13 - Words: 34,612 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 04-28-13 - Published: 01-12-13 - id: 8900849
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This chapter is dedicated to Ryan Steele, because he is fabulous and the fandom is going to weep when he leaves to be in Matilda tomorrow. You go, Specs. We love you.
This isn't happening. No. Not now. Not here.
My father's secretary and one of my best friends just sent me on a one-way ticket to the Hunger Games.
I take shaky steps up the stairs and look out into the silent crowd. Of course nobody volunteers. Nobody knows me. I look to Hannah, who abandons the microphone and runs to me.
"Katherine, sweetie, I-I-I'm so sorry, I-I had no idea-"
"It's not your fault," I tell her. She knows she needs to go back to the microphone, re-don the plastic smile, and keep the ceremony rolling. But she stays put, wiping tears from underneath her glasses. She hugs me tight, and I return, desperately holding back my own tears. The crowd explodes into confused murmurs.
"Yes it is," she whispers apologetically. She lets go, remembering her duties as escort, and gestures for me to take a seat in the metal folding chair beside my new mentor. There are two more seats next to her.
Oh no. A member of the crowd would suppose the mayor was supposed to sit down or someone put the chair there by accident. But I know better. My father said something about how they would switch up the tribute selection procedure every Quarter Quell, or every 25th Hunger Games, but they were also planning on a twist for the tenth anniversary of the Games.
I have a pretty good guess as to what the twist could be.
I can't believe it. I just met Katherine this mornin'. I really wanted to get to know 'er. An' now she's bein' ripped away from a District she doesn't even live in.
Well, if she is from District 1, she's probably Career material, not just the helpless dame I found sittin' in the muddy streets. She might actually have a chance.
Hannah wipes the final tears from 'er eyes and regains 'er composure. Then she glides over to the boys's reaping jar. My palms are sweaty as hell. She plucks a slip out. As she unfolds the paper, I only pray it isn't me.
It takes me a moment to recognize the name.
His eyes widen and his legs visibly tremble.
They ain't taking him away. They can't.
He looks all around – to Katherine, to the boys, to complete strangers, as if looking for an answer. His helpless eyes lock on mine. The contact is like a stab in the chest.
The most optimistic of all of us. The one who cracked this morning.
"You heard the lady, move along," Oscar whispers with a shove on Crutchie's back, nearly toppling 'im over.
Not 'im. Of all the boys in the District, why did it have to be 'im?
After the moment of grim realization, he struggles his way through the crowd of quickly clearin' teenagers.
He was only in four times. An' based on that, I 'ad convinced him he didn't have a chance in the world.
They all whisper to each other as he passes, probably about 'is handicap.
He's just a kid; On the inside, at least. He's got the gimp leg. He'll be dead in the first hour. He's gonna be all alone. Nobody can help 'im.
Wait. I can.
I've mustered up the courage to volunteer. As soon as I begin moving towards the center aisle, a hand grabs the back of my shirt collar.
"Easy, Cowboy," he says. "The crip was chosen, let 'em play the game."
"No!" I growl. "I vo-"
The words are halfway outta my mouth before Oscar swings a handkerchief around my head an' gags me.
"Consider this revenge for what you's done to us this moring," he says, yanking me down and back.
"Actually, you should be thankin' us," Morris smirks. "Least now you don't have to die in the arena."
I try to scream to volunteer, but it's so muffled it might as well be a muted dog bark. Nobody pays any attention.
A good sock in the head with brass knuckles to shut me up, and I'm out cold.
Jack said it wouldn't be me. And 'e said that he'd volunteer for me. He was the only guy I could trust.
An' he lied to me.
I sits down next to Miss Medda, who sympathetically rubs my back.
This is it. I'm goin' into the arena. At least if it 'ad been by polio, I woulda died at home, surrounded by friends.
Then I looks out into the crowd to see the fella who went an' betrayed me – my best friend. I can't find 'im. Maybe he ditched when I wasn't lookin'. I guess I shouldn't judge 'im too harshly - this is the Hunger Games we're talkin' about. But he didn't have to decieve me like this...
"And now, boys and girls," Hannah says, "Before we conclude our ceremony, we have an extra surprise to commemorate the 10th annual Hunger Games. A message from President Snow."
Katherine winces like she knows what it is. A video of the middle-aged man appears on the projection screen. He wears a formal purple suit and a white rose on 'is lapel.
"Good morning, Districts. It is my duty to inform you that this Hunger Games will come with a small twist. In honor of the 10th anniversary of the end of the great war that rocked Panem, a third tribute shall be offered up, selected out of all the remaining names put together, male and female."
So much panic, chatter, an' gasps roll through the audience that I can't hear the president's closing statement. A third tribute?
Hannah pours the contents of the boys' jar into the girls' and sticks 'er arm in. She then pulls out a slip when the crowd 'as quieted down.
"Russell Woodspeck," she reads. I'm surprised when I see Spec's blonde, capped head slowly weave through the crowd. Head down, he climbs the steps and sits down next to me. I feel real sorry for the guy. He helped me jus' this mornin', an' this is the karma he gets. Bein' thrown into the Games wid' me.
"And that concludes today's tribute selection!" She squeaks. She begins a clap that doesn't catch on. She quickly recovers an' recites the motto of the Games.
"Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!"
She makes us all shake hands and exit backstage, to be quickly ushered into the Justice Building so our "families" can have a final goodbye.
He's not comin' for me. Time to be brave, Andrew.
When I come to, I'm curled up on the side of the street. People now inhabit it and are chattering once again. Oscar and Morris must've kicked me here after the ceremony ended.
I can't tell how much time has passed, but as soon as I brush the dirt off 'a me, I take off sprintin' to the Justice Building. I need to apologize, to say goodbye. It's the least I can do. I jus' wanna bust 'im out, but I don't know how. An' to say somethin' to Katherine. It ain't fair she was reaped. Two Peacekeepers intercept me at the front door of the mighty skyscraper. Jus' as I'm about to give 'em a piece of my mind, I sees a small, brown sedan rolling out from the back. I missed my window. The goodbyes are over.
I ain't gonna let them get away that easily.
The tiny car speeds down the bumpy roads. I run straight after it, pushin' through the crowds. I get caught right behind a large, slow-moving swarm of people followin' the car, and by the time I clear them, it's way ahead of me. In fact, it's already at the train station. I see five figures emerge from the vehicle and climb on the train, one of 'em barely able to walk.
I find one more burst of energy to dash all the way over just as the metallic whistle blows. I hop the fence where the Peacekeepers can't see me, an action I'm very used to havin' come here a lot. In the back window, I see Cruchie on a plush, maroon sofa facing the wall. His expression is one of deep, solemn thought; one he doesn't wear often, and the same one I saw on the roof this mornin'.
"Crutchie!" I yell. "Crutchie, over here!"
He doesn't hear me. Either that, or he's ignorin' me.
I hoist myself over the railing an' bang on the window. He needs to know I haven't abandoned 'im. However, I might not 'ave thought through how I could talk to 'im. Maybe he could open the locked caboose door an' I could come inside...
The train begins to pull out, an' I fall to the ground.
"Crutchie!" I shout, springin' right back up. "Crutchie, listen to me!" A lump appears in my throat. I quickly push it down. "Crutchie!"
The exhaust pipe spits in my face as the train travels further away. I desperately run to keep up.
"Andrew Ambertheson, listen to me!" I scream. I try to grab the railing once more, but my legs give out. I trip and have to take a breath, the mocking train leaving me in the dust. I stand alone in the un-groomed woods, split in half by the shining silver railroad track. I'm only 10 yards out from the city, an' I gave up on 'im. The lump reappears, and I allow it, letting the tears seep out, and kicking the trunk of an old pine in frustration.
Now what am I gonna do? I needed to volunteer. I didn't act fast enough. I should be the one bein' sent into the arena. Not him.
I hear 11 train whistles, one second apart. That's right. The other tribute trains are bein' sent out right about now. Unmanned, like most of the ones that come outta the station.
The trains begin to roll through the woods at incredible speed. What I'm about to do is absolutely insane.
As train number 8 blows by, I grab the caboose railing and wrap my legs around it, hanging on for dear life as it speeds up. The track splits into 4 different forks, an' we change direction with a jerk that almost sends me flyin'. As soon as I can, I hurdle over the railing and burst in the door, collapsin' on the soft violet carpet.
If I can't get 'im back, I'm goin' in with 'im.
I then begin to figure out the rest of my plan.
And of course, by dedication, I mean I've decided to reap your character.
P.S.: You have no idea how many H's and G's I skipped in school essays this week. Newsie grammar is messing with my regular grammar. Thanks, Crutchie.