What if Moss Dorian of District 4 won?
"Be careful what you wish for,
'Cause you just might get it all."
A wave of noise floods my ears the minute I step off the train. Instantly, I'm bombarded with questions. Interviewers shove strange machines in my face as they try to record some type of response from me, but with all that's going on, how could I possibly be expected to answer? Besides, even if I could hear them, I would have nothing to say. None of them matter to me. Nothing really matters to me anymore. Not after the arena. Not after I was forced to endure the Games.
At some point between the train and the Justice Building, Aella was lost in the crowd, leaving me to face the horrors of the real world by myself. She's been with me through everything so far. She even managed to stick by my side after Aleah stabbed her. I couldn't ask for a better friend.
I want nothing more than to lie down and sleep right about now. Actually, that's all I've been doing lately. Sleeping. Why? Because when you're not awake, you can't be bothered. You can mold a perfect world where there is no death, no starvation, and most importantly, no Capitol. You can create that universe and live in it for however long you please. Or at least until you wake up and are shoved back into reality.
My entire experience in the Capitol was a blur. Not much stuck to my memory except the eyes of every Capitolite I faced. Usually the Victor is celebrated, worshiped even. Not me. Apparently, my little rampage in the arena reached the TV screens faster than I anticipated. I assumed the Gamemakers wouldn't allow anyone to see that footage, but even they were in such shock that they couldn't function properly. My speech was broadcasted on televisions all over the Capitol…and the districts.
I don't know what to think about that last part yet. I mean, I have yet to face any sort of consequence, besides the dirty looks, of course. I'm sure the president has something planned, he just hasn't unleashed it yet. And what do the citizens of the districts think of it all? As far as I'm concerned, this is the first time someone's stood up to the Capitol since the rebellion. Obviously, most of District 4 is thrilled. Their shouts of enthusiasm can be heard through the thick walls of the Justice Building.
Part of me wants to be proud of what I've done. Who knows? Maybe I'm making a difference, doing something for the better. But then again, maybe I'm just making things worse. This won't go unpunished, that's for sure. Finn could be planning something to make me pay this very minute.
"Dorian!" I'm woken up from my thoughts by the obnoxious voice of a Peacekeeper. He stands by the back door of the Justice Building. He taps his foot impatiently as he twirls his pistol in his right hand, staring me down, attempting to intimidate me. He doesn't get it, does he? It doesn't matter how big or strong he thinks he is. After being through the Hunger Games, I can't be intimidated anymore. All he's doing is pissing me off.
"What?" I snap back, a lot louder than I expected.
Oh, how the tables have turned. The man takes a step back, obviously shocked at my hostility. Still, he's been trained for this. He recovers quickly, calmly taking out a set of keys and displaying them to me. "I've been ordered to escort you to your new home."
Angrily, I storm over to him, snatching the keys out of his hand. "My legs aren't broken," I bark. "I can walk."
"But the chief said—"
"Let me rephrase. Leave me the hell alone before I snap your arm in half."
The large man blinks in disbelief a few times. Who can blame him? I wasn't always this threatening or rude. I used to be kind, sweet, and caring. But all that has changed now. I'm nothing more than a monster.
That doesn't change the fact that he's irritating me. "Move," I spit, shoving him aside and stomping out the door. He doesn't follow. Smart guy.
The instant I'm outside, I'm joined by Aella. Aella. She's still wearing her long, white gown, the same one she's had on since the last few days in the arena. She must wash it often because it never seems to get dirty. Her blonde hair glistens in the sunlight, cascading down her back. She's let her bangs grow out recently, and they touch down right about her beautiful blue eyes. If we weren't such close friends, I would definitely ask her out.
Her presence is all I need to calm down. I no longer feel enraged like I did inside. I remember that not everyone is as idiotic and annoying as the Peacekeeper I just faced. Some people can be sweet and kind, like Aella.
"Where'd you go?" I ask immediately. "I couldn't find you after we got off the train."
"The crowd swept me away," she replies, her voice soothing to my ears, relaxing me to the point where I want to lie down and take a nap. "I got over here as soon as I could.
I nod understandingly, not wanting to say anything that might upset her. The last thing I need is for something harsh to escape my lips. Aella's tough, but she's been through the arena too. I feel like anything I say might spark an overflow of emotions.
"All around the front. We have a few minutes to get out of here before they realize where you are."
I smile. "Let's get going then."
We start out walking across the back lawn, like any normal teenagers would be doing, but we can't contain it. Before I know it, we're in a full-out race to my new home in the Victor's Village. We carry on, shoving and tripping each other to see who can make it there first.
I never even realize the change in scenery. My mind makes no note when the grass shifts from a lush green to a dry brown, or when the sky becomes considerably darker, the sun blocked out by the tall, run-down apartment buildings, or when the neat, cobblestone road gradually turns into a cracked, filthy path. It's not until Aella tackles me onto the ground when I look up and notice where we are.
Rolling off of me, Aella whispers, "Moss…this isn't the Victor's Village."
My memories of my past life must have taken over and carried my feet to a completely different location. The keys in my hand won't open the lock to the house in front of me. Actually, the house in front of me is too cheap to even have a lock.
I figure I owe Aella some sort of explanation, so I force myself to mutter, "This is…where I used to live."
Really, I hate myself for forgetting. How could it slip my mind? How could I not remember that I have a family to return to. I have…Oh my God. Maris.
"My brother," I shout with excitement, but also a touch of nervousness. What ever happened to him? He should still be alive, waiting for my return, right? Of course, that's only if he hasn't starved by now. He's the reason I put myself through the Games in the first place. So I could feed him. So I could get him a better life.
All of it comes flooding back to me now. I won the Games. I'm rich. That means Maris is rich! That means we have enough money to feast like kings. We never have to worry about starving ever again!
Aella seems to understand as I go charging to the porch of the crumpling shack, the place I used to call home. I have to see Maris. I have to hug him like I've wanted to for so long. I have to look into his green eyes and—
It's Aella, a warning shriek before someone throws themselves on me, pinning me to the ground just inches away from the porch of my old house.
We go rolling across the path until we're in the dead grass. I catch glimpses of the man. He's old, with wrinkles digging into his face. His hair is a faded mix of gray and brown, soaked in grime and dirt like he hasn't showered in weeks. His clothes are torn and his body is frail and weak. What scares me the most is his fierce, sea-green eyes.
"Moss, you can't—"
"Oh my God!"
I couldn't help it. After all the time I spent in that arena, my instincts are too strong. I just punched my own father across the face.
"Dad! I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to—"
"Shut up!" he shouts, thought he tries to keep his voice hushed. "You need to listen to me. I can't be seen with you."
"You can't…" I stammer in shock. "What? That doesn't even make sense! You're my—"
"Don't say that word!" he interrupts. "If they find out who I am, I'm a goner, just like the others."
"What are you—"
"Just listen to me!"
My mind can't even process what's going on right now. Aella is no where to be found. I'm left alone with the crumpled form of my father. His face is deadly serious, and even though there's a red mark forming where I punched him, he doesn't even seem fazed. He means business, so what can I do besides listen to him?
"I can't stick around. If they see me with you, they'll know."
"They'll know I'm your father and they'll execute me."
A large portion of me wants to hit him again. Is he saying he's ashamed of me? After volunteering, against my own safety, to protect my family, after fighting my way out of a massive death trap, after taking a stand and shooting the finger to the president of Panem, he has the nerve to say he's ashamed of me?
"I'm only here to warn you, Moss. I'm telling you, do not go in that house."
"There's something in there you'll wish you've never seen, and trust me, you don't need to. You're better off forgetting everything about your past and focusing on your future, okay? Forget about me, forget about Maris, forget about everyone."
"What? But…no! I can't just forget about my family—about you! What's gotten into you?"
"Listen Moss, there were a lot of deaths. After you gave that little speech in the arena, things got messy. There was a riot in the square, started by your friend Brock. Him and a few other fought against the peacekeepers, claiming they wanted justice. All of them, all the fighters, were killed. Brock, his siblings, and even your mother stood up for what was right, and they were all slaughtered."
After staring at him for a few moments, I stagger backwards, barely keeping myself on my feet. Brock? Dead? Holy shit…Brock is dead. He fought for me, and he died. And then my mom? The woman I haven't seen in years, the woman who supposedly wanted nothing to do with me or Maris or my father, she fought alongside him? And now she's dead too. But that leaves me wondering…
My father doesn't respond. He simply looks down at his feet, fidgeting awkwardly until I'm forced to grab his collar and make him look into my eyes.
"WHERE IS MARIS?"
He remains silent a second time, forcing me to shove him to the ground and sprint up the steps. He screams in protest behind me, but I can't be stopped. I slam into the door, pushing until it bumps into something on the floor, preventing it from opening completely. I slide through the gap and turn around to see what was blocking the way.
And that's when I let out the loudest, most heartbreaking scream anyone has ever heard.
Lying in a pool of dried blood, a gash across its throat, is the corpse of a young, innocent boy. I'm looking at the dead body of my brother.
Screaming all the way, I back up in horror until I hit the dusty wall by the kitchen of my house. A puff of dirt erupts in my face, sending me to the floor in a rage of coughing and crying and screaming.
He's dead. He was killed just like all the others. And it's all my fault.
"I'm sorry!" I shout, crawling over to his body and trying to make him listen, even though he obviously can't. "I'm so sorry Maris! This wasn't supposed to happen, you were supposed to live! I did this all for you, Maris, it was all for you!"
I can't stop the flow of tears as they pour onto his body, forming streaks across his dust-covered skin. He's paler than usual, and this time it isn't because he's hungry. It's because he's dead.
"You do realize he can't actually hear you, right?"
The cruel voice hits me like a dagger as I leap to my feet and search for the source. She emerges from the shadows, stepping into the light so I can see her blood-colored hair. Her skin is paler than a ghost and her eyes are so intense I feel like they're digging into my soul.
"Who the hell are you?" I demand. "What are you doing in my house?"
"Tsk, tsk," she scolds. "Where are your manners? You should show some more respect to someone who played a part in getting you home."
My mouth drops as the puzzle begins to put itself together in my mind.
"My name is Belles Crowne, Assistant Head Gamemaker."
"Y-you," is all I can say, pointing a shaking finger crudely at her. She's from the Capitol. She killed my brother.
"Have a seat, Moss," she says, as if this is her house.
Ignoring her completely, I say darkly, "Give me one good reason as to why I shouldn't kill you."
Shrugging nonchalantly, she answers, "Well, for starters, it's illegal. But I get the feeling you don't care about that. Think of it this way. If you kill me, you won't hear what I have to tell you."
Regretfully, I refrain from bashing her head in. For now.
I feel a gust of air as Aella finally runs through the front door. She seems just as surprised at the dead body on the floor behind me, but she shakes it off and rushes to my side. I wrap my arm around her waist, partially to comfort her, but mainly to comfort me. Belles shoots me a strange look, but I ignore it.
"You've caused quite a bit of trouble for us, Moss," the woman says coldly, snaking her way around my kitchen table, her hand brushing across the wooden chairs. "You have no idea what your little outburst has done to both the Capitol and the districts."
I raise an eyebrow as she continues, resisting the urge to throw myself across the table and strangle her, just like I did to Ari from District 9.
"You see, Moss, we have every reason to be infuriated with you. But I came here today to thank you for giving us just what we need. You were the trigger required to put Phoenix's plan into action."
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, if I give away all the details now, it won't be much of a surprise, will it?" She flashes a wide grin at me. "All I can tell you, Moss, is that you'll be very sorry you said what you did that day in the arena. I'm making you a promise. You have screwed every citizen of every district for the rest of their lives."
The words take over me like a tsunami. What does she mean? How could I have possibly messed up millions of lives by giving a two minute long speech?
"I hope you're excited for next year's Games, Moss," Belles continues. "You're in for a real treat."
Aella shudders and I reach my hand up to start stroking her hair. Belles finally gets extremely weirded out and asks, "Alright, what's with the hand?"
I glance at Aella, then back at the Gamemaker. "What do you mean?"
"You're…petting the air."
"Okay, it's official," I say coldly. "You're psychotic."
"Really? Because you seem to be the crazy one in this situation."
"Ignore her, Moss," Aella says, looking up at me with her wide eyes.
"I'm trying, Aella, I really am," I answer lowly.
That seems to give Belles just what she was looking for. Something clicks in her mind and she begins laughing hysterically. "I'm sorry, did you say Aella?"
I keep my mouth shut, not wanting to give this woman any more pleasure.
"Oh wow, this is too good," she continues. "I can't believe I didn't notice her standing there. She is standing there, correct?"
I narrow my eyes at her, nodding my head so slowly I'm not even sure it moved.
Smirking with delight, Gamemaker Belles says, "Moss, sweetie, don't you remember? Aella is dead."
Her words slow down as she reaches the end of her sentence, but I manage to make out what she said. My gaze shifts to Aella, who backs up against the wall.
"Moss, I'm sorry," says the girl from District 5.
"She can't be serious, you're right here!"
But that's when I remember what happened in the arena. When Aleah stabbed her, she didn't shrug it off like I had thought. She died, slowly and painfully, in my arms. I'm speaking with a ghost.
My head jerks at where Belles was standing, but she's gone, and my back door is wide open. I look back at Aella to see her grasping her throat for air. She falls to her knees and begins coughing until she makes no sound. She reaches out for me, but the effort knocks her over. She lies on the ground, suffocating.
"No," I say. I look at Maris' corpse, then back at Aella, dying in front of me for the second time. "NO!"
That's when I finally accept that I can't take it anymore. I've killed so many people. So. Freaking. Many. Vaughn, Lilly, Ara, Ari, Aella, Brock, my mother, Maris, and now Aella again. My father is too afraid to be seen with me in public. I've screwed everyone in the country over for decades to come. I've done so much in a matter of weeks.
Looking back at it, all I've ever done was mess everything up. I think I've caused the world enough trouble.
Desperately, I bombard through the kitchen, knocking things over in my wake. I shuffle through the drawers and cabinets, trashing the entire room until I find what I've been looking for; a thin, sharp steak knife.
"Aella," I cough, looking back at her crumpled body. "Maris," I glance over at his bloody corpse. "I'm so sorry. For everything. Please… please forgive me."
It only takes a few seconds, and it barely even hurts. I didn't really expect it to hurt much, anyway. Nothing could hurt more than knowing what I've done, knowing I've caused the death and despair of so many people. That's the worst kind of pain, and it makes being stabbed seem like a walk in the park.
About a month ago, everything was fine. Sure, we were struggling, but we were fine. I was greedy. I wanted more for me and my family. I fought for it. I killed for it. But in the end, I turned out to be nothing more than a greedy, heartless monster. And now I've finally gotten what I deserve.
I'm left merely imagining what kind of horrors the Capitol will inflict on the districts because of me.
I'm left knowing that everything this country is about to go through is all my fault.