PART 1 - REAPING

My eyes flutter open as the first rays of sunlight penetrate my room from behind the curtain. I prop myself up, and look at the calender across my room. My heart sinks. Today is reaping day.

I climb out of bed and slowly trudge my feet to my closet. I pick out my reaping day outfit: A simple white dress with white knee-high socks and black pumps. I often contemplate why people get so dolled up to just stand there helplessly, hoping their child doesn't get selected for the penultimate death sentence, The Hunger Games. I don't even see why they bother with selecting any of us from District 3; we are among the few districts that haven't caused The Capitol grief. If I remember correctly, according to the propaganda we're force-fed at school, we only joined the rebellion 66 years ago when our neighbouring districts seized control of our electronics factories.

The electronics factory. Every time I even mention it, I feel the panic coming on. Just as the images of that horrific day 5 years ago begin to flood my mind, my mother walks in, as if she could sense my thoughts.

"Morning Elektra," she says sweetly whilst opening my curtains. "I see you've already gotten dressed..." she trails off, probably remembering the very same thing I was trying to forget about, or it's just a hint of paranoia, but it's too late. The images flood my head. The fire. The Peacekeepers. The abuse. It all hits me like a ton of bricks, and I sit on the bed, burying my face in my hands. My mother sits next to me, and as she places her hand on my shoulder, the tears begin.

We share an embrace for about five minutes before she lets go, and wipes my face. "You know, if you were selected for the reaping in this state, you'd probably have to go in with the label 'crybaby'," she says mockingly.

We both know that the odds for being selected are almost entirely in my favour. It's no secret that the pieces of paper with our names on are arranged so that those from the slum are more likely to be picked. The slum. Another place I want to forget. But I can't. Not with the electric fence separating the two social classes, looming over the entire district.

I make my way downstairs where mother has arranged an extra large reaping-day-special breakfast. The table is covered in pastries, fresh cheese, and a few glasses of fresh milk. I think what it must be like to be in the slum right now. Sitting in a room with at least five other people, desperately trying to ration what little tesserae remains. Then I think what it must be like to be in The Capitol. Swimming in food in a luxury bedroom, idly watching the television, eagerly anticipating the next set of children forced to kill one another to air. Part of me longs for the luxury of The Capitol, but would I too get excited over 24 kids killing one another?

My mother nudges my shoulder, snapping me out of my daydream. I glance at the clock. One thirty. We should leave now if we don't want to be fighting for a space when the people in the slum pour into the square. I'm just about to open the front door, when my mother stops me, and fastens something around my neck.
"For luck," she says lightly, but the solemn tone can't be masked so well. I look at what she has given me; a pendant, with a poorly crafted wooden gear charm on the end. But then I see why she has given me it. On the back, in white paint, are the initials LS. Lucinda Sparke.

By the time we arrive, we have ten minutes before the electric fence goes off, and the slum population begin to enter. My mother gives me a quick hug before the Peacekeepers herd me into the pen, and takes her place near the stage. I see my friend Rose standing anxiously two rows in front. Her father has just lost his job, so for the first time, she has had to take out tesserae. Despite it only being four more entries, she is almost borderline hysterical. I want to go over there and tell her that her chances of being reaped are slim to none, but I'm interrupted by the sound of a thousand voices. The slum's gates have opened.

As soon as they begin to flow in, the Peacekeepers pull strange looking guns seemingly out of nowhere. I cringe as I realise these are the very same guns from that day. The day that tore my innocent, happy go lucky life apart at the seam.

Just as the last of the slum kids are herded into the pens, the clock strikes two, and the mayor steps onto the podium in front of the Justice Building. He tells the same old story of how Panem rose from the smouldering remains of what was once called North America, how the Districts betrayed The Capitol during the Dark Days, how 13 was obliterated, and how we have the Hunger Games to show our submission and loyalty to The Capitol.

He then directs our attention to the past Victors, of which only three remain alive. There's Beetee and Wiress, two victors who won their Games not too long ago, who appear to be in their thirties. And then there's the ancient Antony, who won one of the first ever Games at the tender age of twelve. Now, he's a crippled old man who looks as if he's about to fall down dead any minute.

Our attention is directed back to the podium where there are now two glass balls set up, each containing the names of every kid in 3. The mayor then introduces us to our new escort, an extravagantly flamboyant man by the name of Rory Parksson. He emerges on stage, his skin dyed the colour of extremely burned flesh. His hair, a mass of red curls all going upwards. His outfit, a skin-tight red suit with the shirt opened to reveal his blue chest hair. In fact, everything about him screams Capitol Couture. However, compared to the previous escort, his wild look appears tame.

"Happy Hunger Games!" he cries out flamboyantly. "And may the odds be everin your favour!" He practically flounces over to the ball on the left. "Ladies first!" he yells passionately. He reaches in, and grabs the piece of paper. "Our female Tribute this year is..." Before he can finish, a sudden gust of wind blows the paper right out of his hand, and it flies skyward, disappearing into the clear blue sky.

"Well, it seems the odds were most certainly were in herfavour!" he practically giggles. "Oh well, let's go again!" He reaches into the ball, and grabs a second piece of paper. He unfolds it, and the next two words he says completely tear everything apart.

"Elektra Sparke!"