Author's Note: This story will be very different from my usual style, and will also be my first attempt at writing for something other than anime/manga. Hopefully, this attempt will be decent. Anyway, I'm trying to make this story stick as much to the original plot (or what little of the 2nd Quarter Quell has been described in Catching Fire) as possible. Sorry if this sucks, but I'm trying to experiment with different genres. Constructive criticism is welcome, as always. :)
PS. I don't really like OCs but I had to use them, and also give names to those who were not named in the book. Yep.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Hunger Games.
The Odds Are Never In Our Favor
Chapter 1: Prologue
"Maysilee, hurry up! The mandatory programming is starting soon!" My twin sister, Fern, yells from the top of the staircase that connects my family's sweet shop, which is located on the first floor, and our living quarters on the second floor.
I look up from the handful of seeds I have been feeding my canary, Candy. I glance at the clock on the wall and roll my eyes at Fern, "There's still half an hour to the broadcast."
"Mom wants you to come up for dinner. Oh, and Holly is joining us," Fern adds, referring to our best friend Holly Galloway. As if to prove Fern's point, Holly appears next to Fern, waving for me to join them.
The three of us have been friends practically since we were born, due to the fact that our parents are good friends with one another. Whenever the three of us are together, people will comment on how we could be triplets since we look similar. Obviously, Fern and I look similar because we are twins, but Holly can definitely pass off as our sister. We all have long blonde hair and blue eyes. To be fair, though, most of the kids here have similar features- blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin and small stature.
I blow a kiss to Candy and stroke her soft yellow feathers before shutting the door to her cage gently. I take my own sweet time, polishing Candy's cage until it literally sparkled before heading over to the door and lowering the metal shutter, signalling that we have closed for the days. Before the metal blocks my vision, though, I see a gaunt figure hobble across the street, staring at the rows of sweets displayed in the shop window, looking as though he was seeing water for the first time after being stuck inside a desert for months. He has the olive skin, grey eyes and dark hair that mark him down as a Seam kid. Before he can meet my eye, I quickly pull down the rest of the shutter, blocking him out.
Over on the other side, near the borders of our district, is the Seam. That is where the poor people live, where the coal miners work. The Seam kids are even skinnier and scrawnier than we are, and almost all of them have the same tanned, exotic look about them. The difference between the Seam and the merchant area is so stark it seems as though we're from two different worlds.
To be honest, I am a little scared of, and at the same time, guilty towards the Seam kids. It seems so unfair that we have enough to eat, a sturdy roof over our heads and can even afford frivolous luxuries like sweets and cakes while the Seam kids struggle to even fill a quarter of their stomachs. I quickly push the thought out of my head as I head upstairs for dinner. It's not my problem, I try to convince myself. Besides, my parents don't like it when I bring up the poor Seam kids. I had learned that through the hard way. One time, back when I was too young to know anything, I tried giving a sweet to a Seam girl who was sitting across the street, hugging her knees to herself and feasting her eyes on the luxuries she will never be able to afford. My mother caught me and hollered at me, "Don't you ever dare involve yourself with those filthy kids! Wasting precious food on skunks like them is a sin, you get it, Maysilee? If I ever see you doing that again, I'll throw you to the coal mines with those filthy junk!" Even though she said that, I still can't help but feel guilty every time I pass a Seam kid, but over the years I have trained myself to be immune to them and their big, pitiful grey eyes to a certain degree of success.
"Help me serve the food, Maysilee, and then we can start dinner and watch the program at the same time," my mother order.
"Yes, Mom," I answer automatically and head to the kitchen, where my mother is ladling some beef stew into five mismatched bowls. I take over the task of ladling the thick stew while she lays the dining table with a checkered tablecloth and cutlery. With the help of Fern and Holly, I bring the piping hot bowls into the living area, which is a just a large room with a dining table, a couch and television. As all of us settle down in our chairs, Fern leaps up and turns on the TV, which we can see just fine from the dining table.
It appears we are just on time, as the Panem seal appears against the black screen and the anthem blares from the TV. My spoonful of stew freezes on its way to my mouth as, on the screen, President Coriolanus Snow's pudgy figure makes its way up an elaborate stage, followed by a boy in a suit who has a wooden box in his hands. This cannot be good. Usually, the president only graces extremely important events with his presence.
"Oh no," I hear my mother whisper, her eyes glued to the screen, the hand gripping her glass of water turning whiter and whiter as she clutched tighter and tighter.
"This year will be the fiftieth annual Hunger Games, which means that it is time for the second Quarter Quell," President Snow announces. My heart starts a thundering beat inside my ribcage, because even though I have not been born early enough to watch the first ever Quarter Quell, I know exactly what it is. Every 25 years, to mark the anniversary of the Capitol's victory over the districts and to remind people of the amount of power the Capitol has over them, a special and exceptionally cruel Hunger Games is held.
President Snow continues with the story of the Dark Days that every citizen of Panem knows by heart, about how the rebellion by 13 districts against the Capitol 51 years ago failed, and ever since then the Hunger Games was born- the cruel, sadistic competition in which two tributes are reaped from each of the 12 districts and sent to an outdoor arena to fight to the death, until only one winner is left. Every year from when you are 12 to 18, your name is added to the reaping ball, which means that my name has been added 4 times to the ball. Which isn't too bad if you think about it, compared to some of the Seam kids who volunteer to have their names added in more times in exchange for tessera.
"For the first ever Quarter Quell, to serve as a reminder to the rebels that their children are suffering and dying because of their choice to initiate violence, every district was made to vote on the tributes that would represent it," President Snow continues. Which I think is even more brutal than randomly picking tributes and sending them to kill or be killed, which is saying a lot.
"Now we honor our second Quarter Quell," the president says, and reaches out for an envelope in the box the boy is holding. He holds up the envelope, which is a little yellow around the edges and marked with the number 50. Time seems to slow as he peels open the envelope and retrieves a piece of paper from the inside.
"On the fiftieth anniversary, as a reminder that two rebels died for each Capitol citizen, each district is to send twice as many tributes- 2 males and 2 females," he recites.
My father jabs the 'on/off' button on the remote control until the screen blacks out. "Well, I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. You girls still have a slim chance of getting reaped," he says briskly, but I can hear the shakiness in his voice as well. None of us mentions that there is still a chance, an even greater chance than usual.
"Well, let's eat up before the food gets cold," my mother adds, and we continue our meal as though nothing has happened.
Just an introduction, nothing much.
Next chapter: Chapter 2: The Reaping