They're chasing me. The other Careers. Why they've turned on me so suddenly I don't know, but what I do know is that I have to keep running, or else face my death against my old allies. I run to leap over a fallen trunk, but just as I think I've cleared it, my foot snags, and I fall to the floor, too winded to make a sound, or run from my attackers. I make an attempt to crawl to a nearby bush, but it's too late. They're here. I can hear their pounding footsteps closing in on me, and then the faceless tribute pins me to the floor, raises his knife and…
I jolt awake in my bed, sweat pouring off my body, soaking the sheets around me. I frantically grasp the sheets, just to make sure…yes. It was just a bad dream; I was bound to have one on the eve of Reaping Day. I stumble out of bed, and make my way into the kitchen, where my father, little sister Ivy and Willow, my elder brother wait around the table. I am the only one eligible for the Games now, as Ivy is only 7 and Willow is exempt as of last year, when he turned 19. They stare at me in silence. Finally Ivy pushes forward a bowl of porridge, and I gently sit down, trying not to aggravate my father. As I hastily spoon the milky, lumpy breakfast into my mouth, I can feel his disdainful gaze on my back, and I flush, reminded of his dislike for me. I scrape the legs of my chair back, and scoop Ivy up into my arms before stalking up to my room, to get ready for the Reaping.
I'd laid out my best clothes the night before on my dressing table's chair, and I carefully slip into the soft grey cotton dress, the only thing I have left of my mother's, other than the silver locket that remains around my neck permanently. I sweep my long black hair up into a loose bun, and then scrutinise myself in the mirror. I certainly inherited my mother's curvy lips, and slanted nose, but my icy blue, almond shaped eyes are unmistakably from my father's genes. I sigh and turn away from the mirror, then hurry over to Ivy, who has been watching me this whole time with scared, tear filled eyes. 'Clove…I'm scared!' she whimpers.
'What of?'I ask gently. 'Your name won't be in the Reaping bowl for nearly 5 years!'
'I know, but I'm scared for you! What if you get picked?' Her voice is so quiet and trembling, I barely registered what she'd said. But as soon as my brain caught up, I enveloped her into a tight hug, and then take her face in my hands. 'Ivy. My name is only in there 3 times. The odds are in my favour. And even if I do get picked, it would be a great honour to go and represent my district in the Games, and seriously…have you seen me fight? I could win easily. So there is no need to worry, little bumblebee, because no matter what, I will come back to you, okay?'
Her small eyes shine a little with hope, and she relaxes. 'Okay…okay then.'
I straighten up, and take her hand as I hear the little clock in my room strike one o'clock. 'C'mon little bee, time to go, you'll stay with Daddy and Willow whilst I get signed in okay? Then after the Reaping I'll come find you, and we'll go down to the park, yeah?' She looks up at me, and nods her head. We walk down the stairs, where my father and brother stand waiting for us. 'We're ready' I mumble. My father nods, and we leave the house together, walking towards the centre of the town, other families scurrying along next to us. We arrive at the sign in station, and I crouch down in front of Ivy. 'I'll be fine, little bumblebee. Remember our park date, okay? See you in a bit.' I tap my cheek, and she smiles a little, then leans forward and lightly kisses me on my freckly skin. My brother comes forward and lifts her up onto his shoulders, and my small family of three walk off the area reserved for the families of the children being reaped.
I get into the nearest queue to be signed in, and wait for my turn. Worry for Ivy fills my head, and I look over my shoulder and watch them retreating to the penned off enclosure. ' She'll be fine' I reassure myself, and then a voice calls 'NEXT!' and I step forward, and let the burly attendant jab a needle into my finger. He takes my bloody finger and presses it onto some kind of scanner, which bleeps. He lets go of my hand, and calls for another child, which I take as my cue to move on. I wander over to the enclosure reserved for 15 year old girls, who look at me in fear. I am after all Clove Lozier after all, everyone is scared of me. I look around my pen disdainfully, taking in the other town girls who are trembling with nerves. I won't sink down to their level. I stand tall, and scan the other enclosures for a familiar face. I finally catch sight of my training partner, Cato, and our eyes meet. He gives a little nod of acknowledgment, and then turns his head back to the giant screens above the stage, where Panem's national anthem begins to play.
Our escort, Nimi Del Anteguay, stares down at us all as she struts onto the stage, excitement written all over her face. She waits at the front of the stage for the Mayor to come on, as well as our districts mentors, then turns to the screen on her left, where the Capitol-made film that is shown every year begins to play. It explains the reasons for the Capitol beginning the Hunger Games, and shows the history of Panem, starting with the beginning of our glorious country, then going over the events that led to today, like the uprising of the districts against the Capitol, the extermination of District 13, and the introduction of the Hunger Games once the Capitol regained power. The film ends, and Nimi turns to us with a beam that nearly splits her face in half. 'Well wasn't that just great!' she exclaims, her gaze never faltering as she examines this year's potential tributes. 'Well, we'd best get started then' she giggles, and totters over to the Reaping bowl. 'Ladies first!' Her enthusiasm is sickening. She dives her hand in, and feels around. Nerves are jumping around in my stomach, and I hope that my names were somewhere near the top of the bowl, as her hand always goes straight to the bottom to select a name. She finally selects a slip of paper, and slowly withdraws her hand from the bowl. She unfolds it, and leans into the microphone to reveal the unfortunate, or honoured in some people eyes, girl chosen to go to the Capitol. She opens her purple mouth, takes a deep breath, and shouts out 'Clove Lozier!'