The young girl who was called ran on stage, looking almost excited to have been picked. I remembered her from school; she was two years older than me and had ratty black hair that fell past her shoulders. She hadn't bothered to try and tame her wild mane of hair; instead she allowed it to stick out crazily.
I didn't really care who was picked, it didn't matter to me. Didn't affect me. I hardly even knew this girl, and it was my birthday, my twelfth to be exact, and the town square was the last place I would want to be on my birthday. But, by the Capitols standard I was 'of-age' for the Hunger Games and I had to be at the reaping for district 1.
The Hunger Games were still pretty mysterious for everyone in the district, even though they had been held for the past three years. They were the Capitol's way of punishing us for starting the rebellion. But it wasn't just District 1, it was everyone, all the Districts, even 11 which is just a pile of rubble now, still smoldering from the bombs the Capitol dropped on them. I was only nine when the rebellion ended and only six when it began. In my opinion the rebellion was a waste of time, and it stuck us with the Hunger Games, that although are slightly entertaining sometimes, are overall sadistic and disgusting.
Yori tossed her hair back and smiled as Wrighten, District 1's escort congratulated her, his oddly colored skin gleaming in the harsh sunlight.
"Meet your new female tribute from District 1, Yori Rennings!"
"I volunteer!" said a small voice coming from behind me. I turned around slightly, looking for the source of the sound and was taken aback by who I found. It was Blue Applegate.
I had known Blue for my entire life, and for a few years you could have qualified us as 'friends' but we were far from that now. She had betrayed my family when I needed her most, and now, because of her, my Mother is dead.
Blue ran up to the stage, grinning devilishly as she shook the mayor's hand. And then her eyes locked onto me, glaring with hate and demise. I didn't want to go to the Hunger Games but I didn't want Blue to go even more. I exhaled heavily, balled up all my courage and ran up to the stage.
"I volunteer as tribute," my voice didn't even tremble as I pushed Blue out of the way.
"No, I volunteered," said Blue. I attempted to push her off the stage but she dodged the attack and lunged for my neck. I grabbed both of her hands and pulled them behind her back at a painful angle. She screamed and tried to pull away but I held strong. Her knees buckled and I swung her off the stage. Her landing wasn't the best, and I thought I heard something crack. A few people ran up to her crumbled body and assisted her away. Yori, a smart girl, backed away from me and ran off the stage.
"It's a true honor to be District 1's tribute for the 3rd annual Hunger Games!"
My voice rang out in the square, followed by a steady silence. No one clapped. Not one single person.
I searched the crowd and spotted my Father, his blue eyes were stone cold, but as always, re assuring. He nodded once, which was all I needed, this was it. My time to shine.
When I woke up this morning I realized that I had forgotten. I had forgotten the hell of a life I had lived for the past year. I had forgotten Jewel. Oh, Jewel, my precious Jewel of only twelve. She died so young, and in so much vain too. It didn't matter how many times I tried to erase the memory of her crumpled little body with a spear right through her heart from my brain, it stuck. It ate away, through the brain tissue, through all the memories, all the happiness, living only the thought of revenge in its path.
In all reality, I had gotten a lot better. The nightmares had stopped, her death didn't play in my head every waking second, her name was just a memory. The pain was still there, but it was leaving, slowly but surely. But that's just the thing; I didn't really want it to. Yea, sure, I didn't want to remember my little sister dying, but it was all I had left of her. I didn't want it, but I needed it. Memories faded, but that one didn't.
Her memory was pushing me forward every day, but so was revenge. What a sweet word – revenge. I've wanted revenge ever since the day Jewel died. In some ways I got it, the girl who killed Jewel was slaughtered to death by the biggest axe I had ever seen only hours after she threw that spear. I should have been happy, right? An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But I wasn't. District 12 had to pay for killing my sister. I would kill both tributes from 12 myself. They wouldn't even have a chance.
"Get ready to go Jace, the reaping's in ten minutes," my Mother said from downstairs. She knew what I was planning to do, but she wouldn't stop me. Sylvia Mitel had been as weak as a bird with a broken wing since Jewel was reaped, and then killed. She barely even talks, and when she does it always has a sort of underlying insanity to it, as if she is about to go crazy any moment.
I shaved quickly, combed my dark hair back smoothly and pulled on a pair of black trousers. A white button-up completed my festive wear; I was ready for the reaping.
"Welcome everyone to the 3rd annual Hunger Games! We hope this will be the best year yet!"
The mayor of District 1, Odiane, wasn't even from District 1 at all. She came straight from the capitol, as did District 1's escort, both of which were babbling on about how proud they were to be representing District 1. But they weren't really. They weren't proud and they wouldn't really be representing District 1 at all. The tributes were, and unlike the capitol drones the tributes weren't, and will not be willing. Well, most of them won't be.
A long speech from the mayor was all my ears heard, as the square was quiet enough to hear a pin drop from a mile away. People were scared, and nerves were palpable in the air. My decision was made, but that didn't make me any less nervous. Every breath that I took seemed to fill my lungs only half way, leaving me gasping for air that was unreachable. Fear made me sweat and shake like a madman. And then Jewel came to my mind, beautiful little Jewel. She would want me to do this, to avenge her death. Or would she? Jewel had never been one for violence, but this was different. Jewel was dead and she wasn't coming back, ever. Who else would do this for her? Mom and Dad? Too old. Her friends? Too cowardly. Mitchell or Lance? They were good friends of mine, but they wouldn't do anything like this, not even for Jewel. Jewel deserves this, and, if I do die then maybe I will see Jewel again. Maybe she'll forgive me for doing this.
"And now District 1's escort Mr. Wrighten Toraz will chose the male tribute from the bowl," said Odiane gesturing to what appeared to be an over-sized fish bowl filled with little strips of paper.
Wrighten smiled and plucked out a slip of paper. "Calixto Calisto," he said loudly. The crowd turned around as a shaggy looking boy with a mop of red hair slowly walked toward the stage. He was weeping quietly and his hands were shaking.
"What an odd name you have Calixto Calisto, is it from someone in your family?" Wrighten asked the crying boy.
Just as he was about to answer I stepped out into the middle of the walkway. People looked at me with questioning gazes, but I kept my eyes set on the stage ahead of me. I shed all of the worry, and the fear, and the nerves, and replaced them with a calm stature, that would hopefully make the rest of Panem think twice about me.
Wrighten's dyed eyebrows shot up into his hairline, his face a mask of surprise. He had been here for the other reaping's, and no one had ever volunteered as tribute. Being a tribute was a curse, no one asked for it. Jewel didn't ask for it, which is why I am.
"Well, come here boy," said the flashy escort as he gestured to the now empty space beside him. Calixto had raced off the stage the second I said 'volunteer'. "What's your name?"
"Jace Mitel and I'm 16 years old. I am truly proud to serve as your male tribute for the 3rd annual Hunger Games."
The mayor smiled, her plastic face wrinkling slightly. While Wrighten prepared to choose the female tribute Odiane came up behind me and whispered something in my ear that I would have never in a million years expected to come from her lips.
"You are a stupid boy, Jace Mitel."
Mom always told me that I would do something important in my life. She said I would do something that would benefit other people, and something that would benefit society as a whole. When she died I took that dream of doing something with my life out of the equation. There wasn't enough room in it. I had Givane to care for, and I had a new step-mother (who I hated and still hate) and I had a crazy father who still loved his first wife but still wanted someone to love. My life became a wreck when my mother left me, and for a year I lived in complete and utter pain. And then, when Givane was only a year old, the revolution ended and the Hunger Games were created.
The Hunger Games became a sort of idol in my eyes, one that I couldn't forget. The Hunger Games consumed my life, and in some ways my father's as well. He works at District 2's armory and he helped me train, and prepare for when I would volunteer for the Hunger Games myself. I pushed my boundaries and learned how to kill without even blinking. Knives quickly became my favorite weapon, along with swords. I mastered it all, and then some. I dropped out of school so I could spend more time training for the games. I had planned to volunteer when I was 18, but my father said I was ready just a few weeks ago.
Every day I think about what my mother told me, and how she wanted me to help people, and help society. But fame and fortune don't come from helping people in this day and age, it comes from killing people. If my Mother had wanted me to do something else then she would have stayed, she wouldn't have left me and Givane. I loved my Mother so much, but really she was just a weak coward who didn't fight hard enough for her own life. She allowed death to take her without even a second thought about me, or her husband or the baby she was delivering. She was selfish, and she split a family apart.
A family that used to be perfect.
It's an hour before the reaping even begins, but I'm already dressed and out of the house. That's how I begin every day, I get up and leave before my step-mother, Jolina, wakes up. My Father and Jolina met at my Mother's funeral. Jolina had been ogling my father since the day he married mother, and she was waiting to pounce. She sympathized with him, but I knew she meant none of what she said. She wanted Father's money and his good looks, she didn't care about his children, or his misery over losing his spouse.
I kicked a stone with my foot and watched as it flew over the chain-link fence and into the woods. The woods. I had never been in them, no one was allowed, and no one went. The fence that separated District 2 and the far beyond were extremely tall and it was constantly flowing with electricity. You didn't go into the woods unless you wanted to die.
I sat down on the hill close to the fence and listened to the buzz of the electric currents. It was peaceful up here. You couldn't hear the chatter of voices or the cranks of heavy machinery, just that little buzz and soft breathing and Givane talking.
Wait, Givane talking? No one ever came up here, especially not my sister.
Sure enough my four year old sister was running up the steep hill overlooking the District, my friend Gitena in tow.
"Sissy!" Givane cried as she ran up to me. I scooped her up into my arms and swung her around in a circle, careful to avoid the fence.
"What are you doing up here Givane ?" I asked her as I put her down.
"Well, since you're leaving today I just wanted to tell you that you need to be careful," she said seriously. I smiled weakly. I didn't want to leave Givane, but I had to.
'Ok, I promise I will be careful and that I will come home, so we can live in a great big house with huge windows and a beautiful room on the top floor, just for you."
Givane smiled at that but then it faded, "most people don't come home, Sissy. Why do you even have to go to the games? I don't like the games Sissy, I don't like them one bit."
"I know you don't, but I've worked very hard and this is a good opportunity. I'll only be gone for a little while Gigi, and then we can do whatever you want, ok?"
She nodded, her blonde curls bobbing up and down. "I do want to give you this though," she said pulling a little box out of her pocket and handing it to me.
I opened it slowly and what I saw surprised me. It was a small yellow bead with a nightingale on it. In the birds beak was a small pink rose. Givane wore it every day around her neck on a thin gold chain.
"You can't give this to me Givane; it's from your favorite necklace."
"You'll be back soon, and then you can give it back to me," she said with an air of newfound confidence, "since you will be coming home. She pointed at the little pink rose on the bead and gestured at the rose in my hair, "you match!"
"I guess we do Givane," I gave her a sweet smile.
I then directed my attention to Gitena, whose eyes were swollen and red from crying. She gave me a quick hug and told me to be brave, and to never give up.
"I won't, I promise."
"I know you won't Shine, I have so much hope in you. You would never leave us without good reason. I understand that you have to do this."
"That doesn't keep you from crying, does it?"
She laughed, "No, it does not. This is still very dangerous, and like Givane said you need to be careful. You never know whose competing."
"I know, just watch over her for me, will you?" I said, gesturing over to Givane who had a lolli-pop in her mouth and was picking wild flowers.
Gitena nodded weakly and crossed her heart with her right pointer finger. "I promise I will."
"I'll miss you, but I'll come back. There's no way some idiots from district 9 are defeating me."
Gitena smiled at the joke. District 9 had come in last place the year before, both tributes being killed in the first ten minutes of the game. Apparently farming wheat didn't really help when it came to killing other people.
"Come on Shine, let's go to the reaping, wouldn't want to be late."
Life is worth so little. Every day, every hour every minute, so minute in the grand scheme of things. So what matters? Victory? Yes. Family? When I need them. Love? Hardly. Winning, in my mind is what matters. It doesn't matter what it takes to get there, doesn't matter who I hurt to get there, all that matters is that I win. The Capitol might as well have made the Hunger Games just for me because they knew I'd win, and win I shall.
Rae grabbed my hand and gave it a tight squeeze. She knew this was the end. I looked over at her and saw a tear sliding down her face. "Be strong," she said and released my hand.
"Ah, yes, you must be Adrianna Moon, please come here dear."
District 3's escort motioned for me to come onto the stage that was located in the middle of the town's square. The escort, who's name I had no idea (I never had paid much attention to the reaping's before) congratulated me, and then asked for volunteers.
The crowd fell silent. No one was going to take my place.
The shock hadn't set in, but I knew it would. Getting chosen for the Hunger Games wasn't a casual thing; you might as well have picked out your own coffin.
Earlier That Day
For the first time in almost a year I was awoken by my dad. Usually my mother woke me up, but I knew that mother was too worried on a day like this to do much of anything. Today was the reaping for the Hunger Games. One boy and one girl would be chosen to compete in the games, where they would be forced to fight to the death on live television. It is only 3rd Hunger Games, so people are still adjusting to the thought, though I think people are going to be adjusting to the thought of their children being sent to the capitol, and then being killed for quite some time. It's not much of a small change.
"Wake up my lovely Rianna," my father said as he opened up the blinds in my room. My eyes adjusted to the sudden light painfully and I turned my head the other way.
"Come on, sweetheart, you need to get ready," Father said sweetly.
I did as I was told and put on my nicest dress. Sure, today wasn't one for celebrating but I always liked an excuse to wear the strappy summer dress.
"The reaping's in an hour, we'll meet you there," Father said as he shut the door and left leaving me alone once again.
Today was the day, the 3rd reaping in Panem. It seemed like only yesterday people were rebelling and fights were breaking out in the streets. They told us that everything was in order now, but what does killing children have to do with order?
Aden Thomas Lenders
Chaos is a result of not listening. Not listening and not obeying the law. Chaos cost me my family, and everything I've ever known. Every memory, every thought, everything was centered on my family. So what happens when it's all yanked away, when everything is thrown away without a second thought from the murders sodden brain? You might think more chaos, heck, that would be my answer, but in this case it wasn't. My parents and siblings deaths were enough to calm down the district, and make them think more about their actions, and what they wanted. Those deaths were enough to end the rebellion in district 3 completely; something that I never thought could be done, especially not so quickly.
But every action has one, or multiple, reactions. The reaction of the rebellion ending was the Capitol's punishment, the Hunger Games. I had never dreamt that one day the Capitol would be so blood thirsty and ruthless that they would send children, mere children, to their own deathbed. I had also never dreamt that I would be a part of it, but alas here I am, ready to board a train bound for the Capitol, practically another world in my mind.
I hold myself well as the mayor and escort congratulate me and ask the crowd to leave. There's no need to cry now. Why should I? When I die I'll be with my family again, happy and free. The chains that kept me in this retched district can't keep me here much longer. No one will miss me; I'm not much to miss. Such a scrawny boy I am, with unkempt hair the color of sunburnt sand and eyes as green as clover. Never had a girl in my life, but Mother always said I would find one, one that was special, but I guess I really wouldn't. Too late now. Maybe there's good looking girls in heaven. But, with my luck they'll probably all look like Capitol drones.
They push me into a room about twice the size of my bedroom at home. Fine clothes are draped over pricey furniture; all shipped here from District 1 no doubt. I glance up at the chandelier overhead. Crystals of glass as sharp as the fangs of a cobra hang down with only a little strip of metal keeping them up. So little, but so important. It reminded me of a person I once knew, so small but so important. So prominent in my life, everything belonged to that person in my eyes. Everything.
"Aden, come with me," said the stiff Capitol escort, "the train is ready to board."
Thanks again to everyone who submitted! I'm so sorry for the extremely long wait, been soo busy lately with school and everything. I know it's short but the next chapter will include more characters AND it will be longer (: hope you liked it! Please review and tell me if you have any ideas, writer's blocks are not uncommon for me