WELCOME! Well first off I wanted to introduce my wonderful co-writer who WROTE THE WHOLE ENTIRE FIRST CHAPTER! She is amazing! I'm serious, I couldn't find find room for improvement! PLEASE R&R. ~*~ Whiphandgirl and ChibiPanda315
I felt the press of silky fabric slide onto my body. My mother scrambled about, pulling at certain areas of my body or tugging my dress upwards.
"Clove, Is this really necessary?" she mumbled, stepping back and trying to make me look perfect.
I sighed, then continued.
"Mother, if I am going to be picked for the Hunger Games, I want to look pretty don't I?" My mouth convulsed to a hidden snarl.
She stepped back again. My mother was somewhat tall, had even toned tan skin, and had dark lustrous eyes and hair that looked out of place. Her full lips continued.
It saddened her to know I was so interested in the brutal games, but what was she to expect? I was a raised in a Career District. We were trained from birth to worship the Games.
"If you're sure it's what you want darling." she said sighing, her hands staring to work on my beautifully soft and shiny ebony hair.
"Trust me mother. It is." Was she stupid? If it's what you want? Who wouldn't want it, except from all those snivelling morons in the poor districts, who were content with a life a mediocrity? The fame, the fortune, the everlasting glory? It was far too tempting for any self respecting child to turn down.
"Ouch!" I whipped a hand up to the back of my head as my mother stuck in pin into my scalp. Mother, be careful! Leave the bleeding for the Games!"
I swear I heard her mumble under her breath 'That's my biggest worry' before returning wearily to my hairdo.
It's only a few seconds before another pin is stuck violently into my head. This time I shriek out, pulling away from my mother's grasp. I twirl around on my heels to shout at her for being so clumsy, but by the time I'm facing her she is already red with anger.
A vase lays shattered at her feet, an old antique that has been in my family for certainly as long as I can remember. Really, the thing was hideously ugly, however it's really the concept of the damage that matters.
"Hone!" my mother cries, her long fingers pointing accusingly at the wreckage. "Look at this!" It's my older brother. I should have guessed. He really is the spit of our father. Light curly hair, soft green eyes, thick set. Nothing like me at all.
He pays no attention to mother, as usual. "Clove! Clove, you've got to come and see this! There's a massive fight right outside!" I forget all about my reaping outfit and the dull pain in the back of my head and tear downstairs, bursting out of the front door.
When Hone said 'right outside' he wasn't exaggerating. There is a huge amount of people around, some of them literally standing on my doorstep. If I didn't know better, I'd say the Reaping had already started. Shoving past them I make my way to the centre, earning dirty looks and profane shouts as I force my way through. As I embed myself further into the circle I begin to hear the deep and repeatative voices of a group of boys. They're calling a name. What is is? Cato?
Of course. Of course it's Cato. Violence is Cato's middle name. I'm close enough to see what's going on now, and I can't help but laugh out loud. Right in the core of the crowd a small boy stands. He is no older than fourteen, but the vicous snarl he holds on his face makes him look much older.
"You had enough big boy!" he cries. Imbecile. He's actually provoking him. Cato hasn't had enough. He never will have enough. He's just anticipating his next move. The thought has barely finished crossing my mind when Cato lunges at the boy. His huge arms grab him round the waist, bulldozing him right through the mass of people, sending him flying into a pyramid of wooden crates.
Terror flashes through the boys eyes as he sees Cato's hand coming towards him. He tries to yell, but it's to late. Cato's hitting him, smacking him, pounding him with his fists, on his face, his arms, his chest, anywhere he can reach. Under his short blond hair, Cato's face is so red it looks like he's about to explode.
It goes on like this for four more minutes, before the boy begins to bleed so profoundly people start to realise this isn't a joke. They try to pry Cato away, but he just swings around, knocking one of them out cold. I'm one of the only ones still laughing.
Finally they manage to get him off. He's still kicking and screaming and spitting at the boy, who is trembling and sobbing in a pool of his own blood as people rush to his aid. I don't know what he's done, but I should thank him for it. This is the most interesting thing that has happened all week, apart from the preparation for the Games, of course.
Cato is being restrained by a group of what I presume are his friends. They don't look like him though. They're weedy, spindly, weak. Surely he doesn't socialise with them? I trot over, eager to examine the reasons behind the battle.
"Cato?" I ask. The other boys look up. I've never seen them before. And I can tell by their confused glances to their blond friend that they've never seen me either. One of them, a short, skinny boy, enquires about me.
"You know her Cato?" The fear in his voice is instantly recognisable, and it becomes clear what they are. They're not friends, their followers. Lap-dogs, side-kicks, pets. He keeps them around for fun, and to do all the things he can't be bothered to do. And to cover his back when he does things like this.
He totally ignores the question. "Clove. Long time, no see. How have you been?"
"I'm breathing." I say with a shrug. A smile begins to form on his face as the anger melts away.
"And who'd you have to thank for that?" It's true. I do have to thank Cato for that. It was a long time ago. I was young, naive and seeking adventure. District Two is mostly used for training the Peacekeepers, due to our too-close-for-comfort reputation with the Capitol, but it also has a lot of stone mines scattered around. This is where I decided my adventure could take place. A lot of the mines are abandoned now, and there's all manner of nearly harmless creatures to be fought.
But there's a problem with the mines. They're unstable. The slightest movement in the earth around them can cause an avalanche of rock. So many workers have been killed like this over the years, people barley keep count anymore. It's too strenuous. If the Capitol ever asks, the Mayor makes up an approxiamte number. The Capitol never look to deeply into it.
I'd invited myself into the old mine near my village. The boys often hung around down there, since there was a pond, some trees, and a lot of old practise dummies that had been dumped after they'd been tore apart by the Hunger Game trainees. Everything they needed to keep their simple minds entertained. I figured if it was safe for them, it would be fine for me too, and maybe it would have been if I'd have stuck to the main path. But I soon grew bored of stabbing rats and spiders, and wanted a better challenge. I knew that higher up on the mine slopes their lived various herds of mountain goat, with big horns and strong hooves. A real adventure. So, grabbing my knives I began to climb. I couldn't have chosen a worse time.
Just as I was beginning to advance up the rock, I hear a flurry of hooves thunder down form above. A stampede. The rocks begin to shake all around me. There's nothing near me that's stable, and I know whatever I try to hold onto is going to fall. So I freeze, hoping my rock will be the stable one. It isn't.
I remember my life flashing before my eyes. I remember seeing my mother and my father, Hone, all of my friends, my beautiful home. All of the gorgeous reaping dresses I was yet to wear, all of the years of my life that I wouldn't ever get to live.
And then I was flying. Atleast I thought I was. I was being pulled up from above anyway, and my feet and arms weren't touching anything solid anymore. Surely I was dead. Then that voice kicked in.
"Are you stupid?" It's aggressive. It's violent. It's defiantly not a voice one hears when they're deceased. I opened an eye, realizing I'm now on my back, facing up into a face full of frustration. I was quite taken back. Nobody had ever spoken like that to me. I scramble up, brushing myself off trying to stare down the boy.
"Do I look stupid?" I spat, almost immediately regretting it.
"Yes." he stated simply. Ask a stupid question...
"Who are you anyway?" I asked probingly. He stared at me, his eyes distressing.
"My name's Cato." he mumbled.
After that, I spoke to Cato whenever I saw him around. We weren't close, but it was like we had some kind of mutual respect between eachother. Mainly because I didn't want anyone to know that I'd been saved, and he didn't want anyone to know he'd saved me. It was a lose-lose situation for both of us. We'd both look soft.
"What are you on about Cato?" a braver one of the followers said, popping from behind Cato's huge muscular body. He smirked at me.
"Nothing. Come on, let's go and find that little runt. See you round Clove." I just nod. That was one the longest conversations I'd ever had with Cato. No sooner had he and his gang dissapeared behind the corner, Hone came sprinting towards me, flanked by about ten others. He must have gone to spread the word after I ran off. Peering round he noticed the crowd dispursing and turned to me.
"What happened to the fight?" he asked. I just flip my hair over my shoulder.
"It ended." I say simply. Hone throws his hands up in the air in disappointment, groaning loudly.
"Sorry boys, false alarm!" he says, turning to shoo off the now moaning lads. They flip him off as they walk away, kicking the odd bit of broken wood and piece of fruit from the newly destoyed boxes.
"So, who was it?" Hone questions, leaning against the wall of our house.
"Cato and some tiny boy." My brother sighs. He seems to be the only one that notices my brief interactions with the aggressive blond.
"He's trouble Clove," he says, his voice suddenly serious. "You'd stay away from him, if you knew what was good for you." I blank him totally, swinging open the front door and sauntering back into the house.
By midday, the square is packed. In poorer districts, people leave it to as late as possible to turn up for The Reapings. But in our District, if you don't get there at least two hours early, your frowned upon. It's the same in 1 and 4. But apart from that, we're unique.
We decide to group up on our own. I'm in with the aged sixteen females - there's about fifty of us all in all. Over in the boys eighteens I can see Cato, standing a still as a statue amongst the raving hooligans surrounding him, a cocky look spread across his face. He catches me looking and I tear my gaze away.
My excitement is overwhelming now, but it's not the only emotion I feel coursing through my body. There's hints of other, stranger feelings my body cannot properly register. It's not fear, that's an emotion for the weak and stupid, people from Districts like 8 and 12 feel fear. It's more like... anticipation.
The sound of a clock striking pulls me out of my thoughts and tunrs my attention to the stage. Right on cue, Mayor Kinyon burst through the doors of the Justice Centre. Cheers erupted as he appeared, arms outstretched, accepting the attention willingly. Everyone in District 2 was always rowdy on Reaping Day.
He recites the traditional speech as everybody pretends to listen. Really, we're all just itching for the main event to begin. We don't have to wait long.
In less than fifteen minutes, the two huge reapings bowls are brought out. The whole crowd erupts into cheers and shouts, screaming and trying to get closer to the stage. You'd think they were giving away millions.
Our district escort, Tatana, looks as ridiculous as usual. Personally, I have my quells about whether the people from the Capitol are even fifty percent sane. Whoever thinks it is an excellent idea to die ones skin lime green and have hair that is bright yellow, and obviously a wig, so that they look like a pineapple in reverse, is an idiot in my book. He nails match her hair in colour, and are long and pointed, more like the claws of an animal. Her teeth are not polished white (like so many from her city) but crystal, actual crystal stone, with little diamonds embedded in. Her whole body is covered by two huge tattoos, that start at her eyebrows, curve round to her hair line and then descend, eventually poking out from underneath her hideously designed mustard coloured dress before disappearing again into her towering high heels. How the hell does she think she looks good?
She seems pleased. She's one of the lucky escorts. She gets to come to a district that appreciates the Games, enjoys them even, welcomes them into their society with open arms. Others aren't so lucky. An escort was killed a few years back in another district. I think it was eleven. Almost the whole square was wiped clean. Like it matters. Elevens breed like rats.
She waits for the applause to die down before she speaks. "District 2! It is my extreme pleasure to welcome you all to the 74th Hunger Games!" Everybody is set off again. This is why it can take up to five hours to reap the Career districts. It's nearly impossible to get everyone to shut up.
A group of boys nearby start chanting. I think it's the same boys from the fight. "District 2! District 2!" A few other copy them, including myself, and soon the whole square is showing their mad patriotism. Tantata flashes us a smile, her teeth literally splitting the light into it's spectrum as it bounces of them. She tries shush us through her blown up lips, her strange cat-like eyes getting fed-up as we just get even louder. She decides to just begin.
"Ladies first." she shouts, and suddenly everyone is silent. The wait is intense as she fumbles through the names. Her yellow claws scrape against the edge of the bowl, mixing up the papers as she goes. Every eligible girl in the district is holding her breath at this moment. I could bite my nails in anxiety, but I won't. It's a dirty habit.
Suddenly, as if made to do so by some outside force, the escort's fingers clamp shut on a piece of paper. Nobody moves, nobody speaks. Nobody even breathes.
The second it takes Tatana to unfold the paper is the longest second of my life. Much longer than the other Game Reaping's. It's as if I know. I know what's going to happen. Realisation hits me just before the words do.
"And the female district 2 tribute for the 74th Annual Hunger Games is... CLOVE CARIONE!"
~*~ R&R ~*~