Author's Note: Hello there! Long time reader, first time writer on this site. I made this story from my own perspective so if the characters seem a bit OOC, I apologize. When I wrote this from my POV, obviously I had ladies get chosen first, but for the sake of how I went about this let us pretend the male got reaped first, okay? I'm running in a bit differently from the book by some details but please bear with me. Enjoy, lovelies!
There was nothing but pure dread exalting from the pores of my skin as I steered my feet down the path to impending doom. Everyone tried to keep their faces intact, deploring bravado instead of fear as we were all escorted into our confined sections, like livestock getting caged before demise sets upon them. That's what it's like right now as we get ready to see if one of us gets chosen to be sent off to our ultimate death.
Heart pounding so loud, and blood rushing so fast that you can hear the sound of it swooshing through your ear drums. Mouth parched because you've forgotten how to swallow after all your fear has risen a lump in your throat. Sweat begins to drip over your eyebrows and across the back of your neck but you can't wipe it away because all of your motor functions seem to have disabled as your brain tickers the mantra: death, death, death. It was like some annoying flashing banner that you couldn't switch off.
My ears make out a noise over the roar of people around me. It's a woman speaking into a microphone, her overly sweet and cherry voice blasted through the speakers on the makeshift stage she was standing upon.
"Welcome, welcome." she crooned in a dulcet tone. "The time has come to select one courageous young man and woman for the honor of representing District 12 in the seventy-fourth annual Hunger Games."
There was an unpleasant gnawing sensation in the pit of my stomach. This could very well be the beginning of the end for me. Not only if I happened to be reaped, but what if someone close to me also got chosen?
"Let's start off with our male tribute, shall we? May the odds be ever in your favor."
The woman, Effie Trinket, an overly bubbly person who looked like a decoration for a pastry cake with her pasty white skin and exaggerated pink outfit, thrust her manicured hand into the large bowl that had about a hundred folded up slips of papers inside. Slips of papers with names on them. One of those papers was going to announce the execution for someone.
A second later, Effie brought her hand back up, raising the paper in front of her face and saying, "And our lucky competitor is..."
My heart was beating at what seemed like a thousand beats per second. I held my breath as the suspense gripped me. I prayed my name wouldn't be called. What were the odds of me getting picked? A hundred to one? No, I had my name repeated about a dozen times in that bowl. Things weren't looking so good for me.
The world and my heart stopped completely. Had I heard that right?
A hundred pairs of eyes locked in on me. I heard a few gasps and whispers. I was frozen, unable to process the idea that I was going to be sentenced off to my own death.
Someone pushed me, smacking me out of my daze. My senses were returning, and even though everything seemed to be spinning on a tilted axis, I ordered my legs that felt like bags of lead to go onward to the podium. As I walked down the aisle, all I could think was: I am going to die.
I kept my face smooth, appearing unfazed by this unexpected turn of events. But really, all I wanted to do was curl up on my knees and vomit.
My face was being captured on every screen hanging above the stage, sending the image to every television set across Panem. Screens that were reflecting different versions of my serious face in every angle imaginable.
"Congratulations." Effie said cheerily once I finally reached her.
There was no way in hell that I was going to come anywhere as close to being excited about my foretold death as she was. I didn't feel proud in any way, shape, or form. All because I knew that I would be one of the first to go once I stepped foot in the arena full of blood thirsty teenagers who were aiming for survival and the glory that came with being a victor.
I once had so many things to live for, so many goals to accomplish. Now everything was being ripped away from me. There was nothing left to bind me to this world anymore.
I didn't have time to breathe down an exhale to calm myself down before I heard Effie speaking again.
"And our female tribute will be-"
Not her, I thought. Please not her.
No. No! This can't be happening.
I lost my balance, keeling over as I stumbled and crouched down low against the staircase. With one hand on the ground to stop my fall, and the other covering my mouth, I struggled to keep control over myself but it seemed like a losing battle.
No one even noticed as I literally broke down. They were all paying attention to the female approaching the stage. Now the screens cast closeups of Katniss's hardened face. Her gray eyes looked clouded yet determined, but I could tell that she was trying not to loose her cool. Unlike me.
This was just my luck. It was one thing to choose me out of all the other names in that bowl, but then, to also pick the one person who I would give my own life for? Where was the justice in the world? Oh, right. There wasn't any. Not with the Capitol still in control.
My body trembled at the idea that this disastrous call of fate would mean that my hunting partner and best friend was going to become my future opponent. Someone I had to potentially kill or get killed by.
Damn everything. The odds had certainly not been in my favor.
I propped myself back up into an upright position as Katniss took her place beside me. We locked our eyes on each other and I gulped nervously.
What did this mean for our futures? Our families?
As I stared into her eyes, I knew that if I had to be killed by anyone's hand, I'd rather it be the girl I was in love with rather than some ruthless stranger. It would be noble to give up my life for someone I loved, wouldn't it?
My heart continued to pound wildly in my chest. My knees felt wobbly and weak. I've never felt so helpless before. It was uncomfortable, and I wondered if it was possible for a human to wither away into nothingness.
"Now here's the moment for anyone to come forth and take the place of any tribute."
My body felt very cold. I knew no one would come forward to take my place and sacrifice themselves for me. Not even my so called friends because they, like myself, had families and reasons to live for.
The silence was torture. It was as if the Capitol were mocking us, letting us know that no one would save us, that no one wanted us to live.
"Well, if no one wants to come and volunteer then let's hear it for our tributes- Gale Hawthorne and Katniss Everdeen!"
I held out my hand for the overrated traditional bonding gesture, and Katniss grasped my hand firmly with her own. I didn't put any effort into my handshake. I was still trying not to fall over and pass out. Katniss gave my hand a gentle squeeze, reassuring me of her trust in me. Her face was unreadable. I knew she was worrying about her mother and sister. She was probably relieved that it was her who was chosen instead of Prim in the way I knew I was better off getting slaughtered compared to my kid brother Rory.
Was Katniss scared? She was doing a good job of hiding it. I probably looked like a wreck.
Our hands pulled apart and suddenly we were being escorted away by a group of Peacekeepers. They led us to the Justice Building where the only living victor of our district awaited us.
"Hmph." Haymitch Abernathy grunted as he saw us. "I guess you'll do."
I clenched my hands into fists. Did he really want to insult us under these circumstances?
"Let's save the introductions, shall we? You have one hour to say goodbye to your loved ones and then we hit the train."
I didn't want to say goodbye. That would actually be confirming that I wasn't coming back home. I might as well be signing my own death certificate.
"You-" Haymitch pointed at me. "go through that door on the left." He turned to Katniss. "And you take the door on the right. I'll meet you two back here when your time is up."
I glanced at Katniss, nodding at her in consolation before we parted our separate ways.