Hey everyone! So I know this isn't the update you were probably expecting. I've decided to start a story about all the previous victors, starting with the first and so forth. It's not going to be updated regularly, just whenever I hate time and inspiration. Stars is still my priority and I assure you I'm working very hard on it. But writing should be fun, and writing this was very fun. I hope you like it.
"Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting" Napoleon Hill
"I don't get it mom." I question across the hardwood table that dominates our living room. "Shouldn't there be peace now that the war is technically over? Now that the dark days are over?" I immediately think of my father. He was one of the best soldiers District One had to offer; he was skilled in unarmed combat, military strategy and damn did he have good aim. But he's dead, just like everyone else who openly rebelled.
"It's a punishment sweetie." She leans back into the couch and sips her mimosa. Despite losing the war, or whatever you want to call it, District One is still doing pretty well for itself. Better than Thirteen. I push the thought of so much death aside. "This is their way of puffing their chest and making everyone scared. I give it ten years before it blows over and people realize how stupid it is."
"Walk me through this one more time. Please?" I admit, I wasn't really listening to her when she explained it. "You called it the Hunger Games?" She nods.
"Bottom line is, they're forcing a boy and girl between 12 and 18 to go into this arena and wait until only one remains. Then that person gets super rich. At least that's the general understand of it. The Capital is making a huge deal about it and is making it required viewing material. Couldn't imagine why." She kicks off her slippers and tucks her feet into the couch like it's not a big deal.
"I'm 17! You're saying I could be picked!" My palms immediately feel clammy and hot.
"Well technically I guess so. The older you are the more times they put your name in the lotto. They choose by random selection of course. However, there have been rumors that you can volunteer if you want." She sips again nonchalantly. "Who would do such a ridiculous thing!"
Yeah really, who would want to fight to the death on live TV?
"Any way they're choosing who gets to participate tomorrow, you have to go. Promise you'll wear something nice? I don't want those ass holes down the road to think we've lost our class just because we were on the wrong side of this war." Mom's never been too fond of the Duncan's. They sided with The Capital and betrayed the district when things got serious. They chose wisely I guess.
"Hello District One." A military Capitalite dressed in class A's stands before everyone. The entire district has gathered here, it's quite incredible how few of us there are compared to what there were. Nearly everyone is short a parent and those who have both are definitely missing an aunt or uncle. This is such bullshit propaganda. "As you know I've been sent here to select the tributes for the very first Hunger Games. Personally I wanted to call you sacrifices, but the bigwigs decided on tribute. Any way let's get down to it shall we?"
The man with his dark leather boots makes echoes through the otherwise silent arena. Two glass bowls filled with countless names stand before him. He goes to each and pulls a name out. With a low sonorous voice he speaks.
"Tysha Duncan." I grin at the irony, the youngest Duncan girl, I think thirteen, gets dragged to the stage. She barks that her family loves The Capital so much. Serves them right for abandoning us all.
"And Jeremiah Grey." My heart stops.
What. This has got to be a joke.
People stare at me and people back away from me as though I'm contagious. I can't bring myself to move or function until a man wearing The Capital's military insignia starts towards me. I'd rather walk than be pushed.
Once I reach stage I shake hands with Tysha and get shuffled into another building.
Mom enters a few minutes later alone. "They said I only get a few minutes with you so I'm going to be brief. I need you to listen to every word I say understand." She speaks with the same precision that I would expect from one of the most notorious mastermind's behind the District's rebellion.
"They called it the Hunger Games for a reason Jeremiah. Play the game. Be their pawn and do whatever they tell you to do. If they paint you as a nice guy be a nice guy, if they want you to look like a big man they act the part. Nothing The Capital does is coincidence, including naming this bullshit." Her words are exact, but not harsh. Mom always knew how to speak and think. Dad was the man of action, but mom she was the power behind the throne.
"When was the last time you picked up a spear or a bow? I know your father was prepping you to join the army before he died." She almost trips up mentioning his death but she very eloquently powers through.
"Tiber and I spar all the time." I say as coolly as she speaks to me.
"Excellent. You might be one of the only people going into this arena that knows how to fight. Use it." My eyes widen.
"Mom, are you suggest that I-"
"I'm not suggesting it, I'm telling you. If you want to survive this kill anyone who seems like they can fight. District Two always had a very heavy military presence, District Thirteen is gone or I'd tell you to watch out for them too. But you're from District One. You will come back to me my beautiful boy." She hugs me in an unexpected sign of affection, even so far as kissing me on the forehead. "I love you."
"I love you too. I'll be back."
The week spent in the Capital goes by in a blur. I do as my mom commands and push aside my personality to play the game, to be who they want me to be. After the chariot rides I was designated as one of the threats, so naturally once training started I began to flex a little bit and try to scare the other tributes. Tysha has avoided me at every turn, to which I am grateful. Nobody really talks, a few people have clearly paired up with the district partner but no one seems to stray too far from that.
One night we were each called into a room to privately show our talents. I grabbed some spears and threw them the best I could before sparring with a trainer. Some tributes scored as low as a 1, such as the little girl from Twelve, Tysha managed a 4. On the other end of the spectrum the girl from Two scored a 10 as did the boys from Four and Eight. The boy from Two got a 9 making them the highest ranked District. But I guess I impressed them most, I was the only tribute to score an 11.
The following night we were interviewed on live television. Tysha went first and wowed the crowd with her knowledge of the Capital, kissing ass like her family always does. When it was finally my turn I let the interviewer, a man named Lucan, talk me up. He bolsters my already substantial reputation as one of the front runners. Again, I do my best to sound confident, cocky, self assured. The audience buys my act wholehearted. I consider myself lucky mom taught me how to use my tongue for something other than girls. It's clear that some of the other tributes had no idea what was going on. The girl from Two, Claudia, came across as strong mentioning her father's military background. The boy from Four, Lakeland, brought up his expertise as a fisherman, revealing his talents a little too early. The boy from Eight, Marker, tells everyone about his past as a petty thief. The boy from Eleven burst into tears the second he reached stage, but in his defense so did a few others.
That night was spent shoving my face with as much food as possible, carbohydrate stacking as it were. It was the most fun I'd had since leaving One. But all good things must come to an end.
"This is your tracker. So we can keep tally on your vitals and location." A gruff woman jams a large needle into my arm, strangely I feel nothing. Again the boy from Eleven cries as she forces it into his arm.
The hovercraft ride is silent. Across from me sit people I couldn't pull out of a line up, but they're my competition. I try to memorize as much about them as possible, but decide against it, it's better if I don't know them personally, makes doing my duty that much easier.
It only takes a half an hour to land and again we're all shuffled away. I'm met by a man who doesn't speak to me directly only to the air around me. He directs me to a smaller chamber where I strip and put on a uniform of rubber soled boots, denim jeans, and a sturdy jacket. Apparently we have a uniform. Lovely. When I zip my jacket I understand why. There's a giant florescent '1' practically glowing green on the front.
"Get in the tube." My impulse is to tell him to ask nicely but mom's words echo in my mind. Play the game.
"Of course." The clear tube closes around me and suddenly I'm moving up.
Rain. Steady cold fucking rain. And a giant golden horn filled with crates and weapons nearby. I can only assume that The Capital wants us to make a good show of the first few minutes. A giant digital clock starts ticking back from 60 and I start to commit everything to memory. Stone, nothing but stone. Low walls and parapets everywhere, a few towers topped with flags waving in the cold rainy breeze.
A fucking castle. How original.
I swivel on my pedestal and see four main towers in the distance connected by a very large wall, probably the edge of the arena. Many smaller towers zig and zag within, above, under, and around each other. Drawbridges either up or down here and there. The occasional portcullis, most open. Even above me a stone walkway leading from bum fuck no where to shit hole city.
Next to me are two tributes I don't recognize but identify by their jackets and genders. The boy from Five and the girl from Nine. Neither left any impression on me. I glance at the clock. Ten seconds left. I find Tysha far away from me but next to Claudia. Marker no where to be found. Lakeland is only 3 spots away from me, conflict with him seems likely.
As the clock hits zero no one moves.
A few nervous glances are exchanged, none of us really know what to do. It's not like we can hit rewind and check out what people did last time.
Play the game.
I tentatively step down. The ground around me doesn't explode so I burst into a sprint towards the cornucopia. By the time I've reach a pack of spears and hiked a pair of backpacks on my shoulders most tributes are still barely moving, a few approaching with the same speed and determination I had, such as Lakeland.
As much as it pains me when he starts to approach I pull my arm back and let the spear soar. It takes him in the left shoulder, not a kill.
"Fuck!" He screams. After a few steps he yanks the spear from his shoulder and grabs a trident. Aaaahhhh, the fisherman can use a trident, how quaint. I'm surprised at his strength when he rushes me. I met him head on.
Our two pole arms clash against each other, his talent coming from daily familiarity, mine from rigorous military training. It's not a surprise when I pull a maneuver my father taught me and trip him. He trident clatters away and without a second thought I plunge my spear into his forehead. He stops moving immediately.
A few of the younger tributes stare at me like I just committed murder.
I quickly survey the area and see I'm not the only one who's figured out the rules. A boy stabbing a girl in the stomach with a knife. Two girls yanking at each other's hair until one goes for the eyes. It's not until I spot Claudia do I take a second glance.
She has a sword in each hand and fends off Tysha and another tribute, the boy from Three it looks like. I watch, mesmerized, by her footwork and technique. It takes her but seconds to disarm both her opponents and stick them in the heart. It's watching Tysha fall to the ground with the blade being pulled from her chest that snaps me back to where I am.
"Kill or be killed." I whisper to myself. Most tributes are fleeing either from fear, wounds, or they got what they came for. Even Claudia starts running away grabbing a backpack.
A girl runs past me, from Eight, and I throw a spear directly between her shoulders. She collapses 15 feet from me. I run over to her and yank it from her spine, she died on contact. Her district partner, Marker, runs to confront me but once I face him he turns around and flees. Apparently not willing to gambling his life so willingly.
For another 5 minutes I throw spears at anyone who remains, but only land glancing blows. I tell myself it's a training exercise, that these are Capital invaders sent to burn District One to the ground. Eventually though, I'm alone at the cornucopia.
A cannon sounds eleven times. I count the bodies and realize that it's one blast for every corpse. Two of which were because of me. But nine of which weren't. I hide under the rim of the cornucopia, dry, and eat my fill, grab what I want and can reasonably carry then leave the rest smashed to pieces.
Not bad for the first day.
Days of navigating this awful castle system lead me to one solid conclusion: I fucking hate architecture. I've been unable to find anyone in 2 days and the last kid I saw was on a completely different level dragging his bloody ass through an open portcullis. It's really the unmanageable drawbridges that make this a hell for me. I lower one drawbridge and then another portcullis closes or vice versa. There's never a straight path fucking anywhere. I try to light a fire with some wood I found inside a tower but all my matches have long been since soaked. It's been six days total in here. There's only 9 of us left. What do they expect us to do?
"For fuck's sake." I grab hold of my ankle. During one of the lovely spontaneous rain storms my boots slide out from under me as I tried to climb a particularly rough looking wall. I thought the uneven rocks would provide more surface to grab onto, but it just hurt more falling down. I landed on my ankle directly. It's not broken, but fuck does it hurt. What I wouldn't give for some pain meds. As if my thought were being read by the gods an omnipresent voice fills the arena.
"Tributes. Congrats on making the Final Eight. Everyone is very pleased. In order to celebrate your hard work so far and to demonstrate the generosity of The Capital we've decided to hold a feast in your honor. Go to the cornucopia in exactly three hours. You will find everything you need for victory there. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor." As quickly as it came, the voice is gone. Time to find the cornucopia.
It takes what I would estimate an hour for me to find the cornucopia, I've spent most of my ten days in here closer to the center of the arena than naught. I find a very low wall to crouch behind until the time comes. I quickly think over anyone I can remember is still alive. It boils down to two people, Claudia who is probably my biggest competition still alive, and Marker the boy whose district partner I killed in front of him. The other 5 tributes remain a mystery to me.
Eventually the ground begins to shake and I peer over my wall. The ground itself begins to move away from in front of the great horn and a table with a white cloth rises covered in everything I could ever want. Food. A tent. A white box with a red cross on it, no doubt a first aid kit. Dry clothes. Even more weapons.
Unlike the bloodbath I don't waste a second. The adrenaline temporarily numbs the pain in my ankle, and what little pain tries to dominate my mind I simply ignore. I slip off my backpack grab three spears and dash forward. Not to my surprise, Claudia too starts running from a wall farther away that I was. I'll be the first one there. My attention is drawn to the side for some reason, and I thank God for my perception. I drop to the ground just in time to watch an arrow whiz by my head. The girl from Six can shoot apparently.
I get off the cold stone ground and spring forward. I reach the table and grab a shield to block her next arrow. I respond in turn by throwing a spear at her, she ducks out of the way but I would have missed regardless. I grab the first aid kit and smash it open, gauze and tubes fly everywhere. I grab a few pill bottles and stuff them in my pocket, praying one is a pain killer. I spend a few more precious seconds grabbing the only two spears from the table and a box of dry matches.
The boy I started next to, from Five, comes up to the table with a knife raised high. He goes to stab me but I side step out of the way before kicking him in the knee. It bends backwards at an awful angle. He starts to scream, but I silence him with my spear. My third kill, almost instinctive.
Claudia reaches the table the same time as two other tributes whose faces and numbers I don't catch. She cuts one down almost immediately. The other prolongs her just enough for me to escape. For good measure I grab a cupcake as I leave the feast table. Wouldn't seem right not celebrating a victory.
A total of four cannons go off, leaving four of us alive. To my vexation none of the cannons belongs to Claudia or Marker.
Two very uneventful nights later a cannon explodes and awakens me. The face of the girl from Six, the one who tried to shoot me, lights the sky immediately. Without warning a tower in the distance collapses, one of the four largest outer towers. Then another one more inward collapses, leaving only giant piles of rubble. It dawns on me that this is their finale. I need to move. I throw my backpack away and grab the remaining 5 spears I have and my shield.
Running down stone stairs I get glimpses of bridges collapsing, bricks flying around, thunderous crashing everywhere. I reach a drawbridge that thankfully is down I sprint across just as the tower I was in implodes. Down another flight, through a gate, another bridge. Then I run into a room with velvet tapestries. The gate behind me slams shut and I turn to find a lever to open it but none exists. Within seconds Marker, then Claudia share my experience.
"Was always meant to be us wasn't it?" Marker asks out of breath. He puts his hands on his knees and leans, huffing.
"No. Just me." Claudia runs at him and uses a wooden chest as a springboard to jump on top of him. They collapse into a pile and roll back and forth until a cannon sounds. She rises.
"Bout time I get to fight you." I throw a spear at her but she knocks it from the air with one of her blades. She spins towards me as I throw two more at her, meeting the same fate. I drop one spear to the ground and hold tight the last one I have.
Her swords meet me with a crash. I block one with my shield and parry with the reach of my spear. I jab at her but her flickering blades knock the tip away. We dance for another 5 minutes each making close calls on the other's life. I have cuts on my back and one running down my arm. She has holes poking out of her shoulder and leg. None of it life threatening, until the blood loss starts to take it's tole. Another jab. Another parry. Another crash of sword on shield. My shield arm seeming slower, her footwork getting ever sloppier. We step back a few moments each catching our breath. I remove my shield and firmly grasp my spear with both hands. It's time to end this. We make eye contact and nod. Then burst forward. It's time to play the game.
I drop down and slide into her, her swords barely a foot above my head as I come crashing into her. But I came crashing spear first. I get up and pull the point from her chest. She tries to get up but I place my boot on her neck.
"Goodnight." I stompdown.
"Please tell us your favorite moment!" Lucan implores me. I answer honestly.
"It was getting away from the feast with the cupcake. I admit the matches kept me warm those last few nights and the pills worked wonders on my ankle, but the cupcake is what let me know I was destined to win." Everyone laughs. I've become an instant celebrity, my first day back and they patched me up and threw me back on stage.
"We're running out of time! Can you sum up this whole experience for us in one sentence?" I think about saying play the game, but that would be my mother speaking not me. So I settle for the next best thing.
"First victor ever has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"
"Jeremiah I'm so proud of you!" My mom tackles me into a tremendous bear hug, crying. "I knew you could do it. I just simply knew it." She wipes away her tears and kisses my forehead. "After losing your father. I just don't know how I would have survived if I lost my son to those assholes in The Capital."
"Well you might have to share me with them for a little while, I'm in high demand. Lots of interviews and recaps and questions about how I learned to fight." I avoid eye contact with her. I don't want to hurt her feelings.
"Just don't loose yourself to The Capital, they change people"
"I promise mom I'll always be your Jeremiah."
If only that was true.
I hope you liked it or whatever. Let me know if you did or if you'd like to see more of these. Have a great day!