Well, the 44th Hunger Games will be up later this month! Thanks for submitting your characters everyone; the window to submit is officially closed!
Just kidding, it's technically not even open yet. I'm just practicing for when I get to say that around New Year's. Did I fool you? :D
Lessee, first of all, addressing "Guest's" question (I would PM you if I could, but I'll just have to put it here), I would draw the responses. And I would color it, even though I've never tried coloring in my life. Because that makes it fun to look at! Though I'm not very artistically inclined. I attempted to draw my boys here… twilitprincess . deviantart #/d5lyofb But it's just kind of…eh. Humans aren't really my specialty, especially realistic-looking humans. I'm better at cartoonish animals. My sister's starting up one for the Happy Mask Salesman (aka Hapi's true form) next summer so maybe we'll learn the works of it together. Enough about that though, we'll just wait and see what happens.
Anyways, I figured you all already got a taste of "Dean," so why not a Wiley chapter? It takes place when he was much younger, about 6 or 7. I'm sure Portal fans will appreciate all of the references. This was really fun to write and I got a bit carried away, but I think it's a good chapter and it's good background to know on the character. I hope you grow to like him as much as I do.
As the looming sign for Corr Laboratories came into view, Wiley couldn't help but gave a tiny wiggle of excitement. Today was going to be the best day ever! He had been looking forward to it for months. It was "Bring Your Child to Work Day" and he got to miss school for it. More importantly, he would get to spend the whole day with his dad, who was constantly working. Sometimes he would spend so much time at the lab, his family wouldn't see him for a number of days.
"Daddy, what are we going to do first?" Wiley squeaked, taking two steps for every one of his father's, "Are we going to do experiments? Oh! Can I invent something for the Capitol too?"
His father slowed his pace, allowing Wiley to catch up. He beamed down at his son, proud of his enthusiasm. "First I'm going to give you a little tour of the facility."
Wiley gave a cry of pleasure as they entered through the large double doors of the enormous building. "Wow! It's huge!" He exclaimed, goggling at the main room, which had the highest ceiling he had ever witnessed. The floor and walls were a pristine white. Gigantic letters hanging from above spelled out the name of the facility. Scientists in lab coats were running to and fro holding clipboards. It was a very lively place.
Mr. Corr put his hands on his hips and declared, "We'll have to bring your brothers next year. I bet they would like it here."
"No! Rick would break something and Craig would drool on everything, and then nothing would work anymore!" Wiley protested. He didn't like the idea of his little brothers getting in on his quality time with dad.
Mr. Corr chuckled. "Come on, sport, let's get right to it!" He began to stride away and Wiley hurried after him, slipping his hand into his father's and clutching it tightly.
"Where are all the other kids?" Wiley wondered, gawking at everything in sight.
"Off doing little science experiments. Their parents have to work." Mr. Corr explained, leading Wiley through a sliding door, "You get special privileges since you're the boss's kid."
Wiley grinned, feeling special.
After walking a bit, they came upon a large test room that was separated from them by a layer of thick glass. Wiley stood on his tiptoes, peering in at the scientists. "What are they doing?" He asked, adjusting his glasses and squinting. The workers were huddled around an operating table, but he couldn't get a good look at what they were doing.
"They're performing surgery on a test subject!" His father said enthusiastically, "By implanting chips into the brain, we can construct a virtual reality for any Capitol citizen that becomes bored with their daily life. With their imagination, they would be able to think up anything they want...kind of like a dream. It'd be a lot better than any of those virtual game gizmos made by our competitor! Anyways, some of the Capitolites have been wondering what it would be like to compete in the Hunger Games, so we're trying to construct it for them…of course, it would be without the threat of death."
"That sounds fun!" Wiley proclaimed happily.
"Not that fun. Last test subject couldn't figure out how to break out of their alternate reality. Poor sap." He smiled and shook his head at the unknown fate of the subject. "Anyways, it's still in the works."
"Oh." Wiley said, feeling disappointed.
They moved on to a room that was full of computers. Researchers were typing away on keyboards, completely absorbed in their work. They didn't spare their boss a glance as he and his son meandered on by.
"Here's another cool experiment we're working on!" Mr. Corr boomed, putting a hand on Wiley's shoulder and pointing with the other, "Artificial intelligence."
Wiley just stared at the researchers blankly; trying to figure out what language his father had started speaking.
"The point is, if we can store music on a compact disc, why can't we store a man's intelligence and personality on one? So, I have the engineers figuring that one out now. There have been a lot of advances made in lengthening the life span, but no one has truly found the way to become immortal. Can you imagine how much a rich Capitolite would pay for immortality?!"
Wiley just nodded his head during his father's speech, trying to look as if he understood. He didn't see why anyone would want to be turned into a computer. They just sat there while people pushed their buttons, and that didn't sound very pleasant. Then again, his father most likely knew what he was talking about, so he didn't argue with him.
After that, they ventured to all sorts of interesting labs. In one area, they were cutting out tumors, but Mr. Corr wouldn't let Wiley see them doing so. There was also a cool room where scientists were looking how to bring memories back in clear, viewable form. Another place had something to do with teleportation, but Mr. Corr acknowledged that they were making very little advancement on that front. Then he got angry and fired someone for back talking to him.
"Box your stuff, out the front door, parking lot, car, goodbye!" He said in a stern voice, sending the worker packing.
Wiley just watched with a stupid grin on his face. My dad's the coolest!
They moved on with their tour.
"What are they doing?" Wiley asked, peering through another wall of glass to see the experiments that were occurring on the other side.
"Injecting test subjects with mantis DNA!" Mr. Corr exclaimed.
Wiley blinked at his father. "Why?"
"Science isn't about 'why,' son. It's about 'why not!'" Mr. Corr declared proudly, as if he had spoken that line many times before.
An awkward pause followed his statement.
"Mum says you're going to run the company into the ground with the way you spend money." Wiley said somberly, coming away from the window.
"What else did your mother say about me?" Mr. Corr said, frowning suspiciously.
"Is it lunch time yet?" Wiley asked, avoiding the question. He held up his paper bag proudly, mouth watering at the thought of the snacks inside.
Mr. Corr let out a hearty laugh. "Not yet! We're only an hour in and we barely covered anything…at least let me show you my office." He led his son through the winding corridors to where his spacious office lay. One wall was a glass panel that overlooked the large research center, but it had curtains that could be drawn for privacy. There was also a large desk, a comfy chair, and a control panel on the wall, lined with buttons. Next to the panel was a huge picture of Mr. Corr himself, beaming at the camera.
Wiley's jaw dropped and he marveled at the impressive office. "Wow! This is all yours?"
"You better believe it, kid. And it'll be yours, one day." Mr. Corr said proudly, watching fondly as his son ran around the room. He hopped up on the chair and discovered it spun. Laughing, he spent the next few minutes spinning in circles and making himself dizzy.
While he did so, Mr. Corr received a call from one of the research centers. "Okay, I'll be right down." He said gravely, scratching at his sideburns, "Just let me drop my kid off with the others." He slapped the phone down and turned to look at Wiley.
Wiley was currently rambling about the panel of buttons on the wall. "What does this one do? Ooh, I like this one. Can I push it? I'm going to push it and see what happens!"
"No, Wiley!" Mr. Corr burst out, grabbing his son's hand and wrenching it away before he could touch the button. Wiley gave a small yelp of surprise as his dad spun him around to face him. "You must never, ever press that button."
Wiley's blue eyes widened with fright. "Why? What does it do?" He asked, heart pounding nervously.
Mr. Corr relaxed slightly, loosening his grip on the young boy's wrist. A smirk crossed his face and he gazed at the button with a twinkle in his eye. "I had it installed in case of emergency. In case any of my competitors break in and try to steal my work…or if the Peacekeepers come to try and shut me down. After all, some of this research could be perceived as a threat."
"But what does it do?" Wiley asked, feeling utterly confused.
"It releases deadly neurotoxin all over the facility. Do you remember that tribute in last year's Hunger Games? The one that ate the poisoned meat?"
Wiley nodded, his features saddening.
"Well, everyone in Corr Laboratories would drop dead even faster. So don't ever push this button. You understand me?"
"Okay," Wiley said, sniffling slightly.
"Come on, son, don't go soft on me! Now I've got something to attend to, so I'm going to drop you off where all the other kids are." He grabbed Wiley's hand and led him from the room. Wiley kept a tight grip on his lunch bag, allowing his father to lead him to where the rest of the children were.
They arrived in a cramped room filled with kids, most of them his own age. They were sitting at rows of desks, working on simple little inventions such a potato batteries and baking soda volcanoes. They were attended by smiling receptionists, who guided them through the procedures.
Wiley caught sight of a familiar face and instinctively moved to hide behind his father. Mr. Corr lifted his eyebrows in surprise. "Something wrong?"
"Mack's over there!" Wiley whimpered, hiding his face, "He's really mean to me, and for no good reason…!"
"Man up, Wiley!" Mr. Corr said, slapping his son on the back, "If he bothers you, just let him know that he's going to be working for you in another 30 years."
A small smile creased Wiley's features as he once again thought of taking over Corr Laboratories. "Really? …But what if he hits me?"
"Violence isn't the answer, son. Science is!" Mr. Corr declared, pointing at his brain, "A Corr fights with his intellect!"
"Intellect." Wiley repeated, though he had no idea what the word meant.
"Exactly. Now go have a ball!"
Wiley took a few steps forward, his nerves returning as he entered the room. "…But Daddy-!" He looked behind him; only discover that his father had already left. Sighing, he ventured further into the room, keeping as far away from Mack as possible. As he went, he cast a critical eye towards the other children's science experiments.
Barely science, really. He thought, looking at a little girl who was struggling to put her battery together. He stood a little taller as he thought of how he would be running the show one day, right alongside his father.
But checking up on the other kids quickly became a bore. Wiley found an empty chair with an untouched potato and a few wires on the desk in front of it. Deciding that he might as well give it a go, he sat down. Just as he was picking up the pieces, Mack came strolling up behind him.
"Hey Four-Eyes!" The boy said in a taunting voice, "Saw you holding hands with your daddy!"
Wiley stiffened up instantly, fear crawling up his spine. He hated being bullied by Mack. Mack always made sure to remind him of all of his flaws—he talked funny, he wore glasses, he couldn't sing his ABC's…the list went on and on. Usually, Wiley endured it. Or, he would try and convince Mack to leave him alone with words of persuasion, but neither of those seemed to work. Both ended with a black eye or a stolen cookie.
Just then, Mack snatched Wiley's lunch bag off the desk, "Whatcha got in here?" He said mockingly, reaching in and fishing out Wiley's cookies with his pudgy fingers. "Sweet! Think I'll be taking these…" He waved the bag in front of Wiley's face, who was still trying to avoid eye contact.
But then he remembered his father's advice. He gritted his teeth with determination and rose to his feet quite suddenly. Mack pulled back, having been caught off guard by the unexpected retaliation. Wiley got right in his face and declared, "You know what, you're going to be working for me in another 30 years!" The words tumbled out so fast he could barely control them.
Mack just squinted at him through beady eyes, trying to comprehend the statement. "…What's that supposed to mean?" He snorted, beginning to open the bag of cookies.
"You're going to work for me, like how your parents work for my daddy!" He paused, and then added as an afterthought, "Fatty!"
The next thing he knew, he was on the ground with a potato shoved in his mouth while Mack pummeled him with his fists. There was a flurry of high-pitched squeals and a horde of middle-aged women came and pulled Mack off of him. Wiley spat out the potato, but the taste of dirt still clung to his tongue.
"He called me fat!" Mack bellowed, trying to break free from his restraints.
A receptionist helped Wiley to his feet and started to lead him off. He had tears in his eyes. "I didn't mean to, it's just—it's just, he takes my cookies out of my lunch every day even though I ask him not to, and I ask nicely, but, but he won't even share and my mum made them just for me…!"
The receptionist said nothing, leading him out of the room and taking him back the way he had come earlier.
"I'm not in trouble, am I?" He choked out, beginning to cry.
"No, honey, of course not. I just think it would be better if you waited in your father's office, okay?" She said kindly, taking him inside.
"Okay," Wiley sniffled.
The woman offered him a small smile, closing the door behind her and leaving him alone. Wiley wiped away at his tears. Then he realized that he had left his lunch back in the science experiment room. He tried the door, only to find that it had been locked from the outside.
A fresh wave of tears overcame him. Mack's probably eating all of my snacks… He thought forlornly.
He headed away from the door and climbed into his father's office chair. He tried to entertain himself by spinning in circles, but all of the fun had been drained from the experience. His stomach was rumbling, but he had no food to give it. He closed his eyes and kept spinning, losing himself in the motion.
Then he heard a soft 'click' as the chair collided with the wall. Wiley's eyes flew open in alarm to see that the neurotoxin release button had been pushed down. The panel had been left open from earlier, leaving it completely exposed! He gave a sharp cry and leaped from the chair, pushing it away from the button.
But it was too late. The damage had already been done. Wiley began sobbing hysterically, running around the room and trying to open the door. But he remained trapped inside. Hopelessly trapped, while everyone outside was dying even faster than the tribute that had eaten the poisoned meat…
Wiley shoved his fingers in his mouth to keep from screaming. The curtains were closed, and he was terrified to open them for fear of seeing the scientists lying dead outside. And his dad was out there too! Just the thought of it made his legs go numb and give out from under him. He curled into a small ball on the carpet, weeping. Each pain-staking second that ticked by felt more like a year.
Suddenly, a familiar voice boomed, "My God! Wiley, what happened?!"
Wiley peered up through tear-filled eyes at his father. He was alive!
Mr. Corr scooped Wiley off the floor and sat him in his lap on the chair. "Tell me what happened!" He demanded.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry…!" Wiley sobbed, "I didn't mean to!"
"What did you do?!" Mr. Corr said sharply, sounding alarmed.
Wiley couldn't force out any more words. He was crying so hard he began to hyperventilate. Mr. Corr held him close, patting him on the back with one hand. With the other, he picked up his phone and dialed a number.
"Yeah, Carol? Can you bring a cup of hot cocoa to my office? …I don't care if you're busy. This is important." He slammed the phone down and returned his attention to his son, who was trying to catch his breath.
A minute later, Carol bustled in with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. "What's wrong?" She asked worriedly, looking concerned for Wiley.
"Don't worry about it," Mr. Corr said gruffly, "Thank you for the cocoa."
Carol nodded and exited from the room as quickly as she had come. Mr. Corr released Wiley and sat him on his knee, looking at him seriously. "Here…drink this and tell me what's wrong." He said, handing over the mug.
Wiley took slow sips, swirling the sweet substance around in his mouth and letting it trickle down his throat. The warm liquid comforted him, though tears continued to bud at the corner of his eyes. His story spilled out in distorted chunks. "I was going to make a potato battery, but Mack shoved it down my throat, and I didn't even do anything, though I called him a fatty, b-but he deserved it, y'know, for stealing my cookies, and—and I came back here and I hit the button you said not to push, but it wasn't on purpose, I swear! I didn't mean to kill everyone. Honest!"
Mr. Corr listened with raised eyebrows. When Wiley had finished his tale of woe, the man threw back his head and laughed. Wiley's face screwed up with confusion. "Oh, son…" His father chuckled, "You didn't kill anyone. The button only works if you insert the key into it first."
"…You're telling the truth?"
"See for yourself."
He took Wiley off his lap, then threw open the curtain to reveal the scientists outside, still busily working away on their projects. Wiley let out a big sigh of relief and wiped away the last of his tears.
"What do you say we get out of here, sport? I'd say that's enough excitement for one day." Mr. Corr suggested, beaming at his son.
Wiley hesitated. "You're taking me home?" He couldn't keep the disappointment out of his voice.
"Nah, the day's not over yet! What say we go out for some ice cream?"
Wiley brightened instantly. "Okay!"
At the prospect of ice cream, Wiley forgot all about his stolen snacks. He skipped alongside his father as they exited the facility, hardly able to contain his joy.
"But Daddy…" Wiley said suddenly, as they set off in the direction of the ice cream parlor, "Don't you still have to work?"
Mr. Corr slyly put a finger to his lips. "Shhhh…"
Well, that's all the updates on the Hunger Games Outtakes I've got for now. See you all for the 44th Games!