The 30th Hunger Games.
Prologue Part One – Elora Galavan, Capitol.
"There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid." - L. Frank Baum.
Someone brushes past me the second I bend down to reach the food table. A lemon bar sits on one of the china plates; I spare a second to look either side of me before greedily snatching it up and quickly swallowing it down whole.
I struggle to breathe for a second as another guest almost sends me toppling into the three-tiered cake standing proudly on the middle table. If someone asked me why I continue to throw these parties, honestly, I don't even know at this precise moment. The guests are bothersome to say the least and considering across this very neighbourhood the very sour Head of Muttations is throwing her annual pre-reaping bash, there aren't too many people attending what I've put together.
It's hard to maintain positivity when there are people out to steal my glory. I refuse to bow down to them though, the tradition of throwing these parties has been passed down to me by my late mother and the last thing I plan to do is disappoint her. This celebration is meant to be fun and the fact I'm worrying over something so trivial is not going to do me any good.
With this in mind I turn around and strut across the parlour towards a group of stout looking men all chewing away at my husband's favourite meat dish. The shortest one who happens to also have the largest stomach I've ever seen on a person, notices me as I stand on the outer edge of their gathering.
Eagerly, and with a lot of spit, he shouts my name and claps me on the back. Swallowing down disgust and feeling a red flush creep through my face, I smile with enough enthusiasm to comfort these waddling buffoons. I shake his hand and step forwards, taking my place amongst the group whilst avoiding the fat man whose already clicking away for an Avox to serve him.
"Lovely to see you Elora, smashing do I must say," one of them says, his third chin wobbling as he grasps his stomach in delight. How people from the Capitol allow themselves to get to this state with all the surgeries out there to ensure a healthy appearance I'll never know. Maybe fat is in this year, I hope not. Fat doesn't look good on me.
"Anything less than the best won't do at all will it...?" I feel myself growing embarrassed again as the man laughs loudly, spit flying from his lips.
"Felix is the name."
The other men join in with this show of joviality just as I hear footsteps in the direction of the stairway. None of them seem to notice my disappearance as I turn to leave at the sight of my husband walking towards me. If there was ever a man who could be defined as having every aspect of the perfect specimen, it's my husband. Son of a late Gamemaker, involved secretly with affairs to do with the Games, everything about his profession and history is exciting. Appearance wise, it's hard to find a flaw. Truly, he is a blessing. I won't let him know that though, being who he is there's a certain arrogance such words will only fuel even more.
"Elora," he kisses me on both cheeks and squeezes my shoulder. I feel butterflies in my stomach, the same ones I felt the first time I met him, but I push them back and smile kindly up at him.
"People seem to be enjoying what we've put together."
He nods his head as his eyes scan across the room, they hover once over the fat man from a minute ago and they narrow. I barely notice it but it's there, some sort of anger and confusion appears then disappears the same second. I know best not to bring it up, I don't pretend to understand the politics of the Capitol so such things are better left to my husband. I prefer these sort of get-togethers, the Hunger Games being a main focus in my life.
Thirty years in and we still feel the need for revenge, however most here would probably admit to the fact that it's no longer about vengeance. It's just enjoyable to see District kids kill one another. Although most women don't seem to even understand the horror behind it all, they see it as just another TV drama.
"Jeremiah's wife is still proving to be annoying isn't she?"
I sigh. "Annoying is an understatement. You know I swear she has a party the same night as mine just so she can show me up. I haven't even done anything."
Again his eyes shift to the fat man then focus back on me, a delicate smile lightens his eyes and I sink into his open arms. He soothingly runs a hand up and down my back and I forget about the worries and stresses of everything tonight. In a week's time the reapings begin, I get to gather my friends, bet and have some fun with everything that goes alongside this brutal event. I shouldn't have to worry about what my husband gets up to.
"She's a nuisance according to Kendall, someone told me she might not even be a Gamemaker for that much longer. Come the end of this year you won't have to worry about another party ever again."
This time I allow myself to delve into the dramatics and let out a high pitched laugh. Some people look but I don't even blush at their eyes on me. The only competition I've had in life is from the woman across my road and the fact she might be out of the job... dead even? Well, that puts me right back where I need to be. On top of the social pyramid.
"I knew you'd be happy to hear that. Kendall even showed me the..." he pauses again and I feel a chill rake down my spine. A presence hangs over my shoulder and when I look the large man is there, eyes locked with mine and lips curled up into a smile unlike the childish one from earlier.
"Kendall showed you what, Zabian?"
My husband growls and protectively pulls me behind him. I bite back a shriek and sense all eyes moving on us again. I feel fear sinking in my gut at the sight of these two men staring each other down. Zabian squares his shoulders, nostrils flared as he lets out a quick, sharp laugh.
"That is none of your concern. I suggest you get back to your friends or get out of my house."
The man laughs and before I can stop myself a shiver travels through my legs and I look away for a second. Something isn't right about this man and Zabian knows exactly what it is that's wrong with him.
"Honey... I want him out of-"
"He won't bother us if he knows what's good for him," he interrupts, sparing a glance at me over his shoulder. There's a hint of fear in his eyes, the first signs of terror I've ever seen in him and that makes my legs start to shake faster and harder.
"Just remember what the Games mean for you this year Zabian. We all know Kendall and you could join the women your lovely wife hates so much after the victor has been announced. If it all fails... well..." he shakes his head and walks back over to his friends. They mutter something and then leave like that, not even glancing in our direction.
Nausea sweeps through my body and I almost fall as Zabian turns to face me.
"I don't... what's wrong?"
Zabian tries a strong smile but his eyes betray this false strength.
"Just something to do with work, don't worry."
"I'm not you or him or Kendall, Zabian. I don't know how any of this works. You promised me I wouldn't be dragged into anything."
He puts a finger to my lips and pulls me in for another hug. In a matter of minutes I've gone from disgust to an unsightly guest, to complete paralyzing fear over the same man. Something about this year's Games is linked to my husband, something I need to know but am terrified to find out.
"No matter what happens none of this will come back to you. You're safe from him and the Hunger Games. Don't worry about a thing, this is a happy time, don't let him get to you okay?" he tilts my chin up and stares into my eyes.
I see everything that's the opposite of happiness on his face. A secret is somewhere in that head of his and it's all linked to the one thing I hold dear to me. The Games aren't meant to be something we in the Capitol fear.
And in the space of mere minutes that's all be turned upside down.
"If you can promise me we're safe, I can do that."
He laughs gently and kisses my forehead.
"We are, I promise."
The lie is there, a promise he can't keep. These Games are different, if he won't tell me I'll have to work it out for myself. Nothing will tear apart my world, my life. Not even the Hunger Games.
Submissions are open for the restart of Madhouse. Everything you need to know is on my profile including the tribute spots I have taken over from the first version of this story. Please make sure you read everything as a deadline has been included as well. Tributes to be only submitted via PM.
Reviews aren't the first thing I look at when it comes to decisions. Most of all, realism and the tributes themselves all factor into how the Games turn out, however if there ever comes a time when I am conflicted about what to do, I will go back to reviews. If you don't want to review you don't have to, but even a line or two helps to show me you are reading. At the end of the day, why would I keep a tribute from someone who might not even be following the story over someone who's showing me they are still around?
Now that Fight or Flight is nearly over, I have the time to start this again. I'm excited to be using some of the tributes I am keeping from the first version and to see who else I receive. With every chapter structured out and how the layout of this story will be, I am convinced this will work out properly this time.
This prologue doesn't have any Arena hints but the title and maybe picture probably give a clue as to what you should expect.
Don't worry about the number of forms increasing, if they reach over the number I can receive don't let that put you off. I won't be accepting everyone, make your tribute the best they can be and they stand a greater chance of being accepted. Next chapter will be the second part to the prologue with the tribute list and blog link.
Until next time!