Gerome Manning, District One
"Get out of our faces, you worthless piece of dirt!" says Gang-leader Addison Hale. The small girl she was yelling at, Judi, squeaks and starts to run off, until Addison catches her and hisses, "If you come our way again, I'll kill you. You understand?"
Judi nods, which apparently isn't enough for Addison. She takes Judi's arm and twists it round, and I'm pretty sure I hear a snap. "Do. You. Understand?" Addis shouts, as she tosses Judi into the dirt.
"Y-yes…" Judi sobs, as she runs home. I hope somebody can do something about her arm. I've never seen Addis do something like that. She looks pretty satisfied with herself.
Addis, with her scraggly dark brown hair, crooked nose and beady eyes, is not a beautiful person. I get this feeling that she's jealous of me, even though I'm a boy, for having blond hair and icy blue eyes. She doesn't yell at me, though; Addis takes her anger out on other people. That's why she formed her Gang. In the Gang Clubhouse, which is basically just a tree house, Addison rants on about how awful Judi is.
"That pathetic excuse of a person; how dare she trespass our land! Ugh, if she comes our way one more time, I swear I'm gonna-"
"Why are we doing this?" I cut in. "Why are we torturing that little girl again? She's never done anything terrible to us."
"She ratted us out, remember? When we were having a little fun, harassing the ice cream store owner into giving us free shakes, she saw and went and told our parents. We weren't hurting anybody; it was all in good fun. But somebody doesn't have a good sense of humor." Addis has a scary sense of logic.
"Did you have to break her arm?" I ask.
"Who cares?" she says, which is Addis's standard response to when I ask her a question she doesn't want to answer. "Come on, we'll be late for the Reaping."
We find our way to Town Square, where the Reaping ceremony commences. I push through groups of people until I find my spot, the fifteens section. Addison goes over to the sixteens section. Addis smiles at me, the "I'm so ready for this" type of smile. I smile back weakly in return.
Why do I even hang out with her in the first place? I think to myself. I only stick with her because she wouldn't hurt me if I joined her gang. I had accepted her offer, not wanting to face daily near-death encounters due to her.
And Gang-Leader Addison she became. I became her lowly follower, though she calls me her Second in Command. I think about whether or not it was worth it to join her to the point that I don't hear my name being called.
"Gerome Manning!" What? I was picked? I rush up to the stage, even though I see a few other boys trying to get there first. They're fellow Careers, like me and Addis, and they're trying to volunteer for tribute. We'll see about that. I push them out of the way and head for the stage.
Addison Hale, District One
I have nothing against a little brutality towards people I find unworthy of respect. Namely Judi, that annoying little jerk who causes me nothing but trouble. That's why I created the Gang. It is formally called the "Torture Judi Social Club Gang." We are known as the Socs, short for the "Social" part of the title, or just plainly The Gang. Gerome is my best ally, my second in command; I help him in his times of need and vice versa.
We met several years ago.
A boy is slumped up against a brick wall. I almost don't notice him until I trip over him. I look down to see his face. He is a blonde, and his eyes are a blue ice.
Whoa. I have never met someone as perfect looking as him. This boy is gorgeous. I wish I looked like that. Why did I get stuck with stupid brown hair and brown eyes? I swear, only the merchants look like that. I'm from the better part of town, where there are far more blondes.
This boy, despite his awesome appearance, looks miserable. "Need a hand?" I say, reaching out to him. He looks at me and says, "Aren't you that phycho from my English Class?"
I roll my eyes. "Need a hand?" I ask again, with a little more force.
"Fine," he says, grabbing it. "What happened?" I ask.
"My friends and I-we got into a fight. They blamed me for everything even though I didn't start it in the first place. They took my wallet, too, so now I'm kind of broke,"
"Oh. Wow. That's real sad. I could help you, if you'd like," I say. "Hey, I never got your name,"
"Gerome Manning," he says.
"Okay, cool," I say. "I'm Addison Hale."
I promised him that I'd build him up strong, stronger than any of his so-called friends, and it shows. We are Careers, we have to be strong. Becoming a Career was my idea, too.
"Let's become Careers," I tell Gerome. "It's such an obvious choice. We are strong and do enjoy fighting. Besides, it would make us even scarier. You know you want to look scary."
"I don't know," says Gerome.
"Why not? We get to train with weapons, Gerome! We'll get to bring glory to our District."
Gerome doesn't answer.
"What?" I say.
"Well, what!?" I nearly shriek.
"Won't that mean we'll have to kill?" Gerome finally asks. I burst into laughter.
"Duh! Of course it means we'll have to kill, Gerome! Seriously, what is this, first grade? You know you'd have to kill in the Hunger Games," I say.
"Doesn't that bother you?" he asks.
"Not really," I say. It doesn't, actually, which I guess is pretty good if we're going to be in the Hunger Games.
"So, Gerome, what do you say?"
"Fine, I'm in."
And Careers we became.
I hope Judi gets reaped, being a twelve-year-old. She surly isn't a Career. Yeah, that would show her, the little Lowlife. Just as I start envisioning her helpless little face as she stands in the arena about to face her doom I hear two words that change everything.
I was reaped. I, Addison Hale, was reaped. Part of me wants to yell, "Oh yeah! I'm so gonna win this thing!", but part of me wants to scream. I may be a Career, but I know there is a certain chance of death. I don't deserve death.
Whatever. I shouldn't doubt myself. I am going to win this. I'm Gang Leader Addis, and I am going to do whatever it takes to win. Like I said before, I'm gonna fight brutally.