Hey guys, VERY long time no see.
My fault, bad bad bad I'm a terrible person. I hope you enjoy however. I'll try to return sooner than before, the two lovely tributes today were submitted by OfMockingjaysAndPrimroses and hey-finn. If you want to submit a tribute please fill out the tribute form and send me a private message. The Tribute List is an updated list of remaining tributes. Thanks!
Electra Gerlan is awoken by her sister's screaming.
Not that this is a particularly unusual thing, night terrors aren't uncommon in this house. After The Day there is rarely a quiet night in the Gerlan household.
That's why, when Electra (or Lectra as she is known) was 10 and been selected for the Gifted Academy and a chance to leave their tiny house, she had snatched it up. When The Day happened she had been so young only 6 years old, and her own brain had blocked the memory, thrown it away, responding to it as a disease, all reminders of it were gone. This meant though that the sadness of her father and sister were foreign, crippling, unreachable. But that didn't stop her from feeling them, even though she never understood why, living in a house perpetually mourning caused her to be distant, shy, scared.
The Academy had changed that, and living in her house for less than 2 days a week changed the young girl from a timid child to an intelligent, sociable (if introverted) adolescent.
But those less than two days could never leave her completely. And the screams at (she checks the alarm clock next to her bed) 3:28 in the morning were a constant reminder, The Day would never leave her sister.
Lectra rolls over on the stiff cot where she sleeps and covers her ears with a scratchy cotton pillow. Her thoughts turn to the Academy, her favorite place in the world, the beds are soft, they have silk pillows and sheets on the bunk beds. If she could she would bring those pillows home with her every week, but nothing NOTHING is allowed out of the Academy (though an exception was made for her glasses), what the students work on there is top secret save for the Capitol and mayor, even something as small as a pillow is not allowed out. No one ever tells them why, but they figured it out on their own. They are gifted students after all, and it wasn't too hard to figure out.
Kindle's screaming continues, her wails from just a few feet away, many other days of this has taught Lectra that trying to wake her, to stop her screams, are useless, that she must just try plug her ears and sleep.
She wakes up again hours later, unsure of how she ever managed to fall asleep again. She glances out the small window next to her bed, it would barely be big enough for her to fit through and even so is grated. She lives in the slums so to speak, though most of district 3 is in a similar spot. Concrete square houses with a few tiny windows and only what necessities can be spared. Many don't even have bathrooms.
The clock reads 8:47, she does the math, 3 hours and 13 minutes until the reaping and her father is probably gone by now, out doing odd jobs as usual. She's not worried about the imminent reaping, as a quick project her friend Fern calculated about how likely any one person is to get chosen based on the amount of tessera they applied for (she found that it was about 1 in 4,678.56). With a family of 3 and Lectra being the only one who qualified for them she had signed up for 3 same as all the years previous. It's small rations for the family, but it works, she's hardly home anyways, and the Academy feeds her. Plus the yearly input gives her 12 names in the bowl. 12 chances to be picked. Not very likely.
She pushes herself up to a sitting position and puts on her horn-rimmed glasses, aware that it is time to get up, there are things to be done to get ready for the reaping ceremony. Apparently they have to get dressed up to see two children off to die.
Her dress is a greyish green and basically shapeless (though Lectra isn't particularly shapely) and engulfs her tiny body. It used to be Kindle's and has a hole in the skirt. Not that it matters much to her how she looks. She slips the bag of a dress over her head and tries her best to pick the dust off of it and looks at herself in front of the only mirror in the house.
Kindle walks up behind her, easily a foot taller than Lectra but with the same sheet pale skin and blue eyes.
"Do you want me to do your hair?" Kindle asks in her soft wispy voice. Lectra nods and her sister begins to finger through her dark brown hair weaving it into some complicated braid, "Did I wake you up last night?"
Lectra nods, this is the morning routine. Kindle always asks about it, every morning. The answer is always the same.
"Sorry" another common refrain.
"It;s okay." it's like following a script, same words same way of saying. Same, same, same.
"Are you nervous?" Kindle continues.
"No, Fern calculated it, I have next to no chance of getting reaped."
Kindle herself has no chance of getting picked, at 24 she is already ineligible.
"That's good." she gets fed up with the braid which has come out all wonky, and puts Lectra's hair into a ponytail instead tying it up with a piece of string. "What do you want for breakfast?"
"Nothing," she stands up "Xenon invited me for breakfast."
"Okay." Kindle leaves.
An hour later she is heading to Xenon's house under the usual grey sky. He lives in an area of relative wealth. His parents own the clothing shop in town so their home has plenty of food and even it's own electricity which itself is a rarity.
Three taps on the door, a real wood door rather than the usual curtains, and Xenon appears inside. He's tall extremely lanky with curly brown hair and the signature District 3 pale skin dressed in a crisp white shirt and black pants, 17 years old, a whole 3 years older than she is, and one of her closest friends. And also her first and only crush.
"Hey Lectra," he greets her as she walks into the house, extravagant by her terms, chairs, a couch, electric lamp, and personal TV. "Fern's in the kitchen, breakfast is almost ready." They walk into the second room where her other friend is waiting at the table. Fern is small, 13 years old and skin almost as light as Electra's (though Lectra has skin that is pale even by the District standards) and wavy chestnut hair that falls in her face. She's been "dressed up" in a little blue dress and her "nice" shoes which went through her 4 other sisters before her. She's the youngest, only 13 years old, and like the other two, she attends the Academy.
They met 4 years ago when Lectra had first joined, a school for the best and brightest of which they certainly were. Fern had gravitated towards the older girl immediately, the Academy mixed younger and older students enough for them to meet, and Lectra was one of the other few ones there who came from the poorer area of the district. Most who attended were like Xenon, family wealthy enough to afford the entrance exams and with the food and living situation to develop the childrens' minds in the first place. But Fern and Lectra were from the slums, their parents had taken a risk, spending money on the initial test. And for them it paid off, free housing and food 5 days a week, classes that were taught by Capitol residents, Lectra had gotten a new pair of glasses that aside from letting her actually see the world as more than a blurry mound, had special abilities all their own. And telling employers that she was gifted had even gotten her a job making microchips on weekends.
Anyways, Fern and Lectra had bonded, Xenon had later begun talking to them after Fern had calculated his chance of becoming a Capitolite (she had a knack for math and chance) and he had been impressed enough to follow them. Perhaps it was his seniority, or his relative handsomeness, but soon after Lectra began crushing on him though her shyness impaired her from making any real moves.
Xenon's mother appears with a platter of food, eggs and toast with a bit of sugar sprinkled on it. It is more than either of the girls would be getting at home and they both thank the woman graciously before chowing down.
They chat over breakfast, school, teachers, family. They complain about parents who are just annoying, classmates who get on their nerves. Then, of course, the reaping comes up.
"I think it sucks that it had to be today," Xenon says mouth full of egg,"I heard we might be getting some sun today, and we can't even enjoy it on a day like this."
"Sun? Really?" says Fern in disbelief.
"I don't know, I just heard Miloni talking about it." Miloni is an Academy student who likes weather a lot.
"After the reaping do you want to go to the Wire?" Lectra asks. The Wire is what they fondly call one of the unguarded and unused factories. Many of the kids in the district hang out in and around the building. It was the sight of some of the Academy students' prank the year before. One that Lectra had taken part in.
"Yeah, I'll meet you after and we can go into the rafters," Xenon responds, excited, "Maybe there will be more ghosts up there." The other two laugh at the reference to the prank. He checks his watch.
"We should head down to the courtyard now to sign in." the other two girls clear their plates and leave walking through the tiny alleyways between each of the concrete houses and out onto the main road.
"Lectra!" a shout from behind as they walk along the shops. Lectra turns at her father's familiar voice. She turns and he's coming towards her, tall, dark haired, pale as her. He wraps her in his arms and hugs her close. "I wanted to say good morning and good luck before the reaping?"
She pushes him away lightly "It's fine dad, I'll be fine." she assures him.
"Still," he smiles and kisses her on the cheek. "I thought I should give you luck before you go."
Heat rises to Lectra's cheeks at the thought of her friends watching this. "It's okay dad really." she starts to walk away. "I'll see you after okay?" he nods and glances at her friends.
"Y'all have fun then." he waves at them and Lectra rejoins her other friends who continue to the entrance. The enormous Justice Building on which there is a huge metal disk with gears and a factory carved into it. The three sign in and give each other hasty, last minute goodbyes before being separated into their respective groups. Just before they leave Xenon gives her a hug, knowing she has more tickets in there than him. Even though he does the same to Fern a moment later she is blushing a little afterwards.
There is a long wait there under the cold sky. The stage is mostly empty. WIress and Beetee the two old winners are on stage, the are almost a legend around 3, been around for so long, they were born the year of the first Hunger Games. Next to them are a few more victors, the most recently is from 7 years ago, the second most recent, 30.
The escort, Cordelia, walks to the microphone. She stands on 5 inch heels with skin tinted fuchsia. She speaks in a prim and precise manner and adds little gestures with her fingers.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls." she starts, "Welcome to the 79th annual reapings!" silence, unlike in the first two districts, there is no happiness associated with this event.
"For the past 79 years we have been choosing the names of two children, boy and girl, to compete in this time-honored event. The prize of winning is eternal glory" the speech is just as dull as any other year, Lectra becomes aware of her ponytail which is slipping down out of the string. "This year again we have two tributes entering the arena, but now, both may come out alive, together!"
The crowd responds a little to that, even though it is hardly likely to happen, it's still nice in a way, thinking that nobody may have to die. Still, a silly thought, District 3 is not known for it's champions. But then again, neither was District 12.
"We start with the boys," Cordelia continues quickly, trying to drum up the lackluster crowd. Her hand dips in the first spear and pulls out one note, the fate of that child in her hands. Unfolds it carefully checks the name.
"Cole Ashen!" she yells and Lectra's eyes search for the unlucky boy. She hears a girl nearby, a row to her right cry out in shock and looks to see, she is running to the railing crying out.
"COLE! NO PLEAse!" her voice cracks at the end as she begins sobbing throwing herself in the aisle, her long dark messy hair in her face, Down the aisle two Peacekeepers are walking briskly "Not my brother" she wails, Lectra's heart goes out to the girl, the first Peacekeeper takes her arm and she collapses into the dirt crying, they literally have to drag her away because she won't (or can't) stand. Lectra glances at the stage for the first time, a boy, taller than she is with the same grey eyes and black hair as the girl but they look about the same age. Probably twins, thinks Lectra.
He is looking into the crowd for his sister, his face is blank, no emotion at all, strikingly different from his sibling's.
"Any volunteers?" Cordelia asks briskly, silence again, they outburst, however emotional, is nothing rare or unusual. "Well then we continue to the girls."
Her hand dips in the second globe, Lectra tries to remember "1 in 4,678.56 1 in 4,678.56" almost no chance. But the nagging thought comes through, "what if it is you?" she dismisses it as best she can, "12 little cards with my name on it, nothing will happen, there are a thousand others for her to pick."
The woman clears her throat as the moment draws itself out.
"Electra Gerlan!" she shouts.
Her mind races. "1 in 4,678.56 1 in 4,678.56" it cannot be her it cannot be her there is no way that the name that was just called is her's. It isn't.
But the truth is plain enough, her name has been called. The world becomes blurry, like when she drops her glasses or has just woken up from a dream, nothing is quite adjusted, but there is a sense that she is moving though she is not consciously controlling it. Near the stage up the stairs, she manages not to fall, to where the fuchsia skinned woman stands.
The words echo like they are unreal "These are this years district 3 tributes!" and some clapping she and the Cole boy shake hands. A Peacekeeper grabs her by the arm and leads her through the door into the interior of the Justice Building and into the ante-chambe, instructing her to wait for her family.
There is where she freaks out. She starts to scream in panic. She's going to die, soon, die so soon. There is no way to avoid that, live TV she going to die. Her sister and father and best friends will have to watch her die. Then she will be nothing, nothing but another body, another one of 23, another number, another empty seat, another thing for her sister to scream about. She will not live to be 15.
The door opens, it's her father and sister looking hysterical, Kindle's cheeks have tear tracks already, her father is putting on a brave face.
They both embrace her tightly all of them shaking in the shock of it.
Her father "Electra, you are brilliant you are so smart, you can win I know.." he chokes up "I know you can, remember what the academy taught you."
Kindle just stands there looking at her.
"I love you Lectra," she says quietly, "Please don't die out there." It sounds like a plea.
Her father is fishing something out of his pocket a chain with some charm on it. She looks at it. It's a thin leather rope with three wooden gears looped on it.
"It was your mother's Lectra," he says clasping her hands around it, "I wore it for every reaping to keep you girls safe, but now it can be used to keep you safe in the, arena. your token sweetheart, your token."
Another embrace that's tight, needing. Then it's another blur of Peacekeepers, and then she's on the train, away away.
1 in 4,678.56, 1 in 4,678.56, 1 in 4,678.56.
And she had to be the 1.
Cole is definitely running late.
There isn't a clock for him to check but by the way the sun is streaming through the window it has to be after 11. The reaping starts at 12! At this rate he won't be able to see his friends until afterwards.
He scrambles out of bed and throws on the blue pants and garish silk striped button down that he laid out the night before. It used to be his father's but it is truly awful. He hurries into the kitchen and grabs a roll from the table and eats quickly, he wonders where his sister is, she would have woken him up if she were here. He finishes the roll swallows it down quickly and is about to leave when his father walks through the door.
"Hello," says his father rather sharply with a curt nod. And Cole thinks that he has probably been drinking. He stumbles when he walks in and is leaning on the doorframe like he can't seem to get a grip.
They had fought the night before. Not that it was uncommon for them to fight or anything, but they were usually in bad spirits afterwards. Last night it had been about tesera. Cole's father had said that he needed to apply for it, Cole had said that no they didn't they were fine. HIs father said that business had been slow and a bit extra would help. Cole said that his father should sell off crap they didn't need. His father had asked "Like what" and then they had fought, Cole saying that they should sell their mothers old stuff His father said it was too precious. Cole said that he just wanted him to have extra names in the reaping so that he could finally get rid of his son.
Then he had run out of the house and run for a very long time. Running always calms him down, and he does it mostly when he's very mad, which means he runs a lot.
He nods back at his father just as tersely and starts once more towards the door before his father's voice stops him again.
"Why are you upso late?" he has definitely been drinking, his slurred words give it away all too well, "I's nearly time fer the reaping."
Maybe it's because he believes it's always there or maybe it really is, but Cole hears the hint of confrontation in his father's voice. Maybe he shouldn't take the bait, but he has to, it's his father, he can't let the man win.
"Maybe if you hadn't kept me up all last night with your shouting I would have been up earlier." he retorts.
"Well why didn yer siser wake you up?" he pushes the blame.
"Do you even know where the hell she is?" Cole asks. "You don't even look after your own daughter." His father seems to struggle with this for a moment before changing the subject.
"I wouln't have bin arguin if you ad jus agreed to help the family." he rushes the words together. The sick bastard coming in telling Cole that he's the bad guy while being piss drunk at the same time.
"Maybe you could have woken me up if you weren't so fucking drunk all the time." Cole's voice raising now, "Maybe we would have fucking money if you didn't drink, then there wouldn't have been an argument at all. It's funny how you refuse to sell mom's shit even when you are so drunk that you sleep with a different woman every night!"
His father's face turns from bright red to paper white in seconds. Then purple, blue, Cole wonders for a moment if he is going to die at the hands of this man, this man who he would abandon in a moment if he could, a man who he stayed with only because if he didn't the peacekeepers would find him and take him back, a man who he stayed with only because his sister would be too scared to leave. Maybe she would find his body here, or maybe this man would dispose of it before she could. For her sake, he hoped for the latter. His face turns red again, yellow, green.
Then his father throws up all over the floor and Cole runs out of the house.
Or he would if his sister hadn't entered at that very moment. She looks momentarily happy to see him before seeing the expression on his face.
Her gaze goes to behind him and she spots their father keeled over a puddle of his own sick.
"Oh," says Cole's twin softly.
"We're leaving Cass," Cole says taking her hand and pulling her from the house. She starts to pull back but he is insistent, he wants her away from this monster. And eventually she comes along through the corridors between the houses. He keeps walking until they are many blocks away, and only then does he realize that he has been going toward the town square. Instinct he supposes, from 14 years of reapings, this is both of their 15ths.
Almost at the same time he realizes that he has been very nearly sprinting since they left and he slows down, they are far enough away that he can begin to calm down.
Cassia walks up next to him catching her breath after the long run, she looks concerned.
"What happened this time" she says, her voice all seriousness. "What was the fight this time?"
"Just the shit he was pulling with trying to get me to get tessera and he was totally drunk and it was just... I was really pissed" she nods, "And I said stuff about his drinking and stuff and he got really mad. I thought he was gonna kill me."
Cole is already calming down considerably. The fact is he is actually quite calm, collected, level headed, but his father rubs him in just the right direction and makes him want to scream. Cas is the foil to his father, moments with her get him feeling better very quickly.
She is worried still. "I don't think that he would kill you though,"
It's a short time later that he's waiting in the courtyard, the escort stands on stage and a little further back is the mentor, an extremely tall lanky and surprisingly dark skinned man who looks rather menacing from afar. That was at least partly how he won, though Cole isn't completely sure of the specifics.
The microphone rings out "Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls." she starts, "Welcome to the 79th annual reapings!" which is greeted by no reaction. And then of course comes the speech which never interested Cole until the end, "This year again we have two tributes entering the arena, but now, both may come out alive, together!"
It's a nice thought, he supposes, both of the tributes returning, not a single family ripped apart (in his district anyways) it's hardly likely, but a bit comforting.
"We start with the boys," The escort announces swifly. And very soon after there's a
Everything goes blank for a moment. The econds stretch into infinity and back they leave strips of white on his vision, he's going to be sick.
It's the cry of his own sister, hysterical that moves him. He must be strong, for her if no one else.
"COLE! NO PLEAse!" It takes all of his strength not to run to her like he has for the last 15 years.
"Not my brother" Her voice is pleading. He can't bare to look he tries to clear away any sign of feeling. He's on stage, he sees his sister, she's being carried by peacekeepers.
For a moment it is his every intention to race to her side and lift her up and comfort her.
He remains a statue.
"Any volunteers?" Says the escort, Cole almost feels like it's some cruel joke. "Well then we continue to the girls."
It's another moment.
"Electra Gerlan!" she shouts.
He sees an extremely skinny pale girl stumbling her way to the stage. How sad, he doesn't even get a good partner.
"These are this years district 3 tributes!" it is announced. He and the other girl, Electra, shake hands and he is led away.
It is only minutes later that his father and sister appear. His sister just holds him tight and cries into his shirt. Cole doesn't even shed a tear. It's true and terrible, he thinks, that the ones who hurt the most aren't the ones in the arena, but the ones left behind.
His father doesn't seem to comprehend what's happening and hardly looks at Cole.
Cas gets angry.
"Dad." she starts.
He doesn't react.
"DAD YOUR ONLY SON IS BEING SENT TO THE HUNGER GAMES WHY AREN"T YOU LOOKING?" For the normally softspoken Cas such an outburst is highly unusual.
His father turns.
"You'll be fine son," he says, Cole is unconvinced, "Use your knowledge, anything, make friends with the other girl find out her strengths, kiss up to the sponsors too," His father comes close and grips him around the shoulders, "Don't you dare die out there Cole."
The Peacekeepers enter, his sister wails again, the Peacekeepers must pry her off.
He is led to the tran clutching onto the twin charm he wears, his only grip upon reality.