Those three words are enough to put me through instant shock. I froze my limbs unable to move. Is this some kind of sick joke? No. They would never joke about the games, especially about which tribute is chosen. These games are not just designed for the Capitols entertainment, but to overrun the districts, to show their power over us. There was only one slip of neatly folded paper with the name Primrose Everdeen written inside, among thousands of other names, including twenty of mine. Just as Gale said in the woods earlier, they may have rigged the names in that crystal ball. There's always a lot of controversy when a twelve year olds name is drawn and steps onto the stage. No, not just the stage, but to their almost certain death. The youngest person to ever win the games was 14. The Capitol has written her death sentence by drawing her name out of the crystal ball. Prin steps onto the stage. All you can hear is her footsteps. Nothing more. Effie grabs her hand in order to help her up onto the top of the stage.
"Our newest female tribute, Primrose Everdeen!" Effie says with an obvious tone of excitement. Of course she's excited. I'm sure everyone else in the Capitol is too. I look back at Prim, her eyes filled with terror and horror. And that's all I can handle in one day.
"Prim!" I scream at the top of my lungs, coming back to my senses. My voice echoes throughout the District. After a few mere seconds, the wind carries my voice away, leaving nothing but silence once again. All eyes in the square are pIaced on me. But I don't care what they think of me. I push through the crowd, waving my arms to push people out of the way. There was nothing that could stop me from getting to my sister, to save her precious life. But I was wrong. The peacekeepers take hold of my arms, and I struggle to break free. But as I struggle more and more, their grip tightens.
"I volunteer! I volunteer as a tribute!" I call out to Effie without hesitation. I never thought I would have to say that. Effie just looks at the in surprise. It's been a while since there has been a volunteer from District twelve.
"That's the spirit!" Effie says excitedly, clapping her hands in delight. But what she was about to say next, she says on a more serious tone. "But unfortunately.." Effie looks at me questionably. But I know what she's asking me, even without words.
"Katniss. Katniss Everdeen." I say bravely in reply.
"But unfortunately" Effie repeats, "Katniss, I'm afraid only careers, being Districts one and two can volunteer this year, so I'm afraid I can't let you volunteer." Her face looks down at the slip of paper she is still holding, then back at me. Her face lights up as she realises the connection between our names. She continues, "Even if she's your sister. Sorry!" I know her sorry isn't sincere. I should have known. Rare to find someone in the Capitol who feels for the kids fighting and dying their death in the arena. Shock ruins through me. Again. But why? Why can't I volunteer? Just because the capitol wants Prim to be killed in that arena, along with twenty-two other children around my age? For their entertainment. For drama. For laughs. I've already given them a good show. The first volunteer in District 12 for a long time. Risking my life for my sister. It'd just not fair. The hunger games is not fair. The life the Capitol forces us to live by is not fair.
"Now please, Miss Katniss Everdeen, take your place in line. Thank you." Effie says in a huge smile. Wow, I think she tries to be overly friendly. I don't cooperate, so the peacekeepers start to drag me back to my place. Dust flies everyone as I try to fight back. Not for my life, but for Prim's. When I realise there's nothing else I can do, I silently take my place in the crowd. I wish there was something I could do. Tears well p in my eyes. Nothing I can do. Nothing. The president would just destroy her in a blink of an eye, even before the games start. At least she'll have the slightest chance of surviving in that arena. A one-in-twenty-four chance. A better than nothing chance. A glimpse of hope. At least Prim has that.
"Let us pick the boys next!" Effie persists loudly, to get everyone's attention to her. Her fingers wriggle around the crystal ball filled with the male names. Her thumb and forefinger grab a slip, and the name is drawn. Just like that.
"Peeta Mellark." She reads. All eyes point towards the boy who owns the name, and he makes his way calmly up onto the stage. But his eyes say otherwise. Fear, what I so often see in prey. Peeta Mellark – that name. The memory with the burnt bread, the beating, the rain. He didn't even know me, but he gave me a gift I can never repay. I owe this boy, Peeta Mellark.
"Give a big hand to the newest District twelve tributes!" Effie proclaims to the crowd. Not one person claps. I'm not surprised. It's like that every year here. Effie lowers her arms and gives Peeta and Prim a slight nod. They shake hands. The peacekeepers escort them into the building, and the doors close behind them.