The story keeps on runnin', runnin', runnin'... Here is chapter 6. Enjoy, if you will.
I wake up from my daily gallon of water. I still wish I could get back at that kid somehow, but there's really nothing else I can do.
Going to the bathroom to take an actual shower, something strange happens. About halfway through, I notice that the water has turned a reddish color. I start to freak out; the water looked heavily bloodstained. That is, until I tasted it. Kool Aid? I shut the water off and unscrew the top off of the shower head just to find that a packet of the mixing drink had been dumped inside it.
He'd break into my room just to set up something to get back at me? I was settling the score, but now he wants to start a prank war the day before we leave? Not in my best interest. There's still one more night to go. We'll see what happens before then.
I get dressed and hurry down to the main floor. As if on cue, the devil himself walks up to me and snickers, "Hey Jon, your skin is looking kind of reddish today, are you feeling fine?"
I stare him down as I reply, "Watch yourself, kid."
He continues to walk away laughing. The best thing to do at this point would be to ignore him. I have more important things to worry about than a snotty little kid.
Today, from what I have gotten from Karol and my fellow tributes, is the interview night that comes right before the start of the Games. Each tribute is interviewed in front of a Capitol audience and anyone else who cares to turn on their T.V. during the broadcast. The interviewer might ask any type of question be prepared. Other than that, the rest of the day is mostly a free one. I don't feel like training, so I wander around the building with Ethan and Mason.
"Hey," Mason starts, "this is kind of like the old days. Back when we used to walk home from school together."
"But it's not, now is it?" I reply harshly, a little more than I meant to.
Ethan catches up to my fast stride. I hadn't realized that I had picked up the pace. "Are you okay Jon? You don't seem like yourself."
I slow down to let Mason get up to us. "Am I supposed to?" I ask. "Tomorrow and the days after it I have to hunt and kill everyone I care about, excluding my parents, just to stay alive. Not to mention that if I do survive, my life is ruined anyways. Do you expect me to be happy, apart from my usual depressed move? I question myself how you two aren't feeling the same way."
Ethan tries to meet my gaze, but I won't let him. "Look, we realize that this is a tough time for our group. Heck, there hasn't been any worse time. But remember, there's nothing that we can do to stop it. Wouldn't it be best to live out the rest of our time in a happier matter? This is the last few moments we'll be together like this."
I stop completely.
"Ethan, Mason, I'm sorry for my attitude, but this really isn't the time for my so called 'bright mood' to show. I probably have less than a week to live and you still want me to be happy for these last days? I realize what you're trying to do, and I appreciate it. You two have helped me ever since elementary school. When everyone else failed for me, even the rest of my friends, I could always count on you two.
"Tomorrow morning we will all be put in the same arena that is currently unknown to us. We will only have one goal: survival. I realize that there is no way to change our current fate, and it annoys me still. Please, I just ask of one thing: don't try to cheer me up. I have been depressed ever since I entered the 5th grade, and at this time it's at its worst. I'm not trying to tell a sob story, I don't want you to waste your time."
They stay quiet for the rest of the afternoon.
"What happened to your skin?" Karol asks when I walk into the dressing room. "It looks redder than it did before."
I looked down, wanting to hide from everyone completely, especially her. "Don't mention it, it's a long story."
She shrugs. "It doesn't matter much, I was just wondering. Now, about your clothing for tonight…" A metallic blue tie, light blue dress shirt, and black dress pants lie on the bed. I quickly dress into them.
A couple of minutes of silence pass before Karol senses something wrong. "Are you okay? Did I mess up on the suit?"
Great, now people are blaming my overall mood upon themselves. "No no, it's a great outfit!" I cover up. "I've just been having some problems lately, that's all. It's no big deal."
She reaches back to my nightstand and grabs my district token. "If you say so…" I take it and pin it to my tie. "Good luck out there, Jon." She adds, and then walks out of the room.
I'll need it… just like always.
Ashley is first up. I quietly sit in my seat as I watch her hurry up to the stage. All of the tributes end up sitting together. All except for Joseph, who has placed himself a couple rows away from me. Just as the training scores did, the interviewer calls each tribute up in order of District number, and ladies first in each district. Poor Ashley, she's had the unlucky pick of being a girl tribute from District 1. She's been first up in every event.
"Ashley English," the interviewer, a man in a suit that changed colors when light hit it in different ways, clarifies, "that is your name, correct?" Ashley nods slowly. "Good, let's get on with the questions! As always, they are ones that the viewers from the Capitol send in. Be ready to answer anything, Ashley." He pulls out a card from his pocket. "Firstly, Ashley, how do you feel about being in these Hunger Games? Not just the Games itself, but with the people you know?"
Ashley slumps down in her chair a bit. "At first, I didn't know. I had no idea my friends would get picked. When Schuyler got called, I did freak out, but when I learned who was coming from all the other districts…" her voice trails off.
"Don't feel bad about letting your emotions flow here," the interviewer entices, throwing on that plastic smile, "no one here will think any different of you."
Yeah, sure. I think to myself. Of course they won't, they're just people tuned into a game show, what do they care?
"Moving on," he continues, "you do have a lot of boys in your little friend group, don't you?"
"Umm… yes?" Ashley replies suspiciously.
"I see, well, there are rumors going around that you have some kind of relationship with one of them. Is this true?" Even from where I'm sitting, I can see Ashley's cheeks burn with embarrassment.
"Well… I… I guess I do like one of them…"
The interviewer probes some more. "Can you give us the name of the guy?" he asks.
"No." Ashley replies sharply. Case closed.
"Well, okay then." the man says, looking at his watch. "Wow, look at how the time goes by. One more question. Girls seem to have the lower hand in these games, what about you?"
Ashley's eyes narrow. "I will only fight when I need to. I want to let others destroy themselves first, then I'll come into play when I need to." A buzzer goes off and Ashley instantly gets off the stage, leaving the interviewer confused.
"Nice performance with that last answer." I whisper to her as she takes a seat behind me.
She smiles. "Thanks, I thought it was pretty convincing."
Schuyler's interview comes and goes, and next is Marticka. "Well, Ms. Davis, from what I've heard, two tributes, both from the same district even, are two of your cousins! Is this true?"
"Yes." Marticka confirms.
"Wow," the interviewer exclaims, "I bet that's tough getting through. What's your plans to deal with this come time of the actual fighting?"
Marticka shifts in her seat as she replies, "I have none."
He's blown back. "No plans?! That's very unusual, Marticka! Wouldn't it be better to be prepared before hand?"
"Plans are useless," Marticka says dully, "if you don't know what you're up against. What's the point of making plans if I don't even know what environment I have to fight in? The best thing to do in this type of war is wing it and hope it turns out for the better."
Tributes: 2, Capitol: 0
The interviewer is wide-eyed. "Well," he says, "I must say I've never heard that kind of answer before. Good luck with that, Ms. Davis. Next question… I hear that you're pretty good with a sword, is that true?" She nods. Interviewer man continues. "It's always good to be familiar with a weapon, even better with one as common as that one. Now I'll ask you the same question I did Ashley, how do you feel about being matched up with half of your opponents being strong kids?"
Marticka simply shrugs. "So what? Don't judge a book by its cover. Women may be said to have the lower hand in combat, but sometimes cleverness can beat strength."
"I see," he says, "that is very good information for anyone." The buzzer sounds. "Thank you Marticka, you may go sit down now."
Marticka is really good with keeping her emotions bottled up, but even she can't sit down before silently crying in the seats in front of me."
Tyler gets interviewed, then it's on to Marrissa. The sad thing is that there have been no impressive male interviews yet; Schuyler and Tyler have failed miserably. My friends, or at least the guy ones, aren't good talkers.
"So, Marrissa," the interviewer starts off, "it seems I have some interesting questions lined up for you. I hope you're ready." I can tell Marrissa's stress level went up another notch. "First one, did you and Jon know each other before the reaping?"
She thinks for a minute, then replies, "Not really. I mean, we've seen each other in school, but we weren't friends." This is true. I knew her as a name around the halls, but I had never really talked face-to-face with her before a month ago.
The guy's expression suddenly lightens. "Oh, so you don't mind killing him in the Games?"
She shrinks down into her chair a bit. "I didn't say that."
He tilts his head slightly. "So, you don't want to face him? If you aren't friends with him, what does it matter?" Marrissa begins to blush slightly. "I see, so you weren't friends before, but you are now. Good ones, it seems." She opens her mouth to reject, but the interviewer cuts her off again. I personally wish he'd shut up.
"No, I don't need to know any more. Next question: from what I see, the only person you knew before your reaping was Marticka. So you don't want to hurt her, or Jonathan, what about the others?"
Marrissa gets to get something in this time. "Well, I don't know, really. I wish I didn't have to hurt any of them." she responds shyly.
He shakes his head, disapproving her comment. "Marrissa, friendliness won't get you anywhere in the arena. Everyone won't think the same way you do now. Be prepared for anything, because I'm sure someone's going to go looking for you sooner or later." The buzzer rings and Marrissa hurries back to her seat, cutting not wanting to hear him out. Next up is the male tribute from District 3, Jonathan Chantry.
Here goes nothing.
I get up from my seat and walk slowly up to the stage. I swear I can feel every eye in the room on me. "Well, Mr. Chantry," the interviewer says at last as I take a seat, "I've been looking forward to interviewing you. We have some interesting facts to go off of." Not only do these people try to embarrass you in front of millions of people, they're also stalkers. "From what we can get, it looks like you are the center of the friend groups we have here. Before the reapings, Schuyler, Tyler, Ashley, and John had no idea of your other friends, Billy, Geoff, Claire, Marticka, and Marrissa. Yet, you knew all of them already. Ethan, Mason, and Joseph knew some from their Jr. High days, but they had no clue of Marrissa."
I feel myself flinch every time he mentions the name Marrissa. He seems to have the idea that her and I are in a relationship. Let him think whatever he wants; it would be useless trying to argue it.
"Basically, that means you knew about half of them personally before they were even picked. I really feel for you; you are facing most of the people you know. How are you going to handle it?"
I honestly don't know, I'm still trying to figure that out myself! I want to scream. I don't know why my eyes suddenly start leaking, but I manage to cough out, "I'm just going to wait and let it play out."
"Ok, I get it. You basically have the same strategy as Marticka. Usually I would try to dig further, but I see I have hit a sensitive spot, so I'll try to change the subject." Maybe this Capitol worker actually does have a heart.
"I see you got an 11 for a training score," the interview continues, "that's pretty good, especially for someone from District 3. What weapon are you good with?"
That's a tough question. I really don't have a certain weapon. I did do that amazing shot with the sword, but other than that, I don't have anything. "Actually, sir, I don't have a certain weapon."
He's astonished, yet again. "Really? You got an 11/12 score! And you don't even have a main weapon? That's pretty impressive."
Ok, so maybe I'm better with a sword than anything else. But I just combined sword skills with a perfectly aimed throw, in which I calculated first.
"What did you do then?" the interviewer asks.
What do I say? "I threw the sword and almost cut off the head of a Gamemaker"? "I'd prefer not to mention, if you don't mind." I reply bluntly.
He nods and says, "I see, don't want anyone to know your secrets, do you? I get it. I have one last question for you this evening." the interviewer proceeds. "This one, surprisingly, was sent in many times. Remember how I said get ready a long time ago? I hope you are."
Uh-oh. Here it comes.
He takes a deep breath, then reads, "Many of the viewers, from the Capitol and some of the districts, wish to know if you do have a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with a girl in your district named Braunté. Do you?"
My heart momentarily stops beating. How'd they get track of that!? I look over to the other tributes for support and see Joseph snickering behind a seat. Yeah, he's probably enjoying this. Heat floods through my cheeks again as a look to the ground, searching for something to say. Braunté is probably watching now, just as embarrassed as I am. What do I say?
My vision starts fading. Oh no, not again. I start to feel myself tipping slightly. I take a glance back to the tributes and notice that Marrissa is fidgeting in her seat. She knows what happens; she's seen me almost pass out before. She's not here to help me this time. I'd better think of something fast.
"Braunté and I are just friends." I stutter. "She is a girl in my District, but we are just friends, nothing more." The interviewer looked like he was going to interject my answer, but suddenly…
Saved by the bell. He nods. "Thank you Jonathan, you may take your seat now." I slowly walk over to my seat to avoid stumbling. The feeling of almost passing out again leaves once I sit back down. Now that that's over, I can just relax… or so I think.
Next is Cheyenne, then the rat named Joseph Cronen. I ignore most of the questions that are asked of him, mostly because they are all dumb ones, but one at the end catches my ear.
"Joseph," the interviewer says, "you seem to know a lot of the tributes here tonight too. This may seem like a weird question, but who do you want to avoid killing the most?"
Joseph gives a cocky smirk and says, "I think that would be my pal, Jonny."
That's surprising, to me at least. "Oh, really?" the guy asks, "and why is that?"
I could see the hit coming before he even said it. "Well," Joseph stated, "I wouldn't want to mess up his life, especially when he has a girlfriend like Braunté."
WHY THAT LITTLE…! As I start to get up, Ashley's hand comes from behind me and pushes me back into the chair. "Let me go, Ashley." I mutter.
She leans down to my ear and whispers, "Save it for tomorrow, you can release all your anger then."
The interviewer, unaware of the rage building inside me, reprimands him "Joseph, we have already established that matter in previous questions. It doesn't need to be brought up again."
Joseph shrugs and replies, "That's okay. We don't need to talk about Braunté and Jon's personal life."
I try to get up again, but Ashley keeps pushing down on my shoulders. Ethan and Mason sitting to the side of me me see me struggling and hold my arms down to the seat.
"Let me go!" I repeat. "I'll kill him!"
Ashley casually replies, "Here's the deal. You have two choices. You can either be constrained by me, or constrained by a Peacekeeper, which do you choose?" I stop struggling.
Joseph gets off the stage once the buzzer rings. He sits at the other side of the room; good thing for him too. There might have only been 23 tributes before the night was over.
Rebecca Accord is up next, then Ethan. I'm too furious at the time to notice the questions. Again, there is only one that I catch at the end.
"Ethan," the interviewer states, "it's widely known that you and Jonathan are close friends. I know that this is a stupid question, and that I've already asked it to most of the tributes who have come through, but what are you going to do? Will you actually fight against your best friend?"
Ethan thinks about this for a minute, and then says, "No, I refuse to hurt Jon."
"That's not a good idea," the interviewer counters, "remember a softie will never get along in these Games. It's hunt or be hunted, when it all comes down to it, Jonathan will be stabbing you in the back the first chance he gets." Ouch, that hurts. I'm not that crude, am I?
Ethan stares him directly in the eyes. "Jon will never do that." he says sharply. "We have been friends ever since the 2nd grade. We've had to pull each other out of some tough times during the years. Nothing will pull us apart, not even the Hunger Games. Got that?"
The interviewer holds his hands up in retreat. "Ok, I got it. I'm sure something will work out." The buzzer saves yet another person from the death seat as Ethan retakes his seat next to me.
As Brooklyn's interview starts, I whisper to Ethan, "Do you think that's true? I mean, the whole part of us not killing each other in the end?"
Ethan keeps is gaze directed at the stage. "I don't think that's true, Jon, I know that's true. Our friendship has grown strong enough over the years that not even these Games can break through them. I don't think anything will change in the arena."
I should've thought the same thing. I don't know why I'd think anything would change in the arena. Ethan and I have lived this long together; we'll die together just the same. Not to sound weird or anything…
The rest of the interviews are real flops, in my opinion. You could tell the poor guy was running out of ideas. Although, it probably didn't help much when the answer to most of Billy's questions was, "Milking cows." It probably came as a common answer to him, due to that most of his time spent in District 10 was milking cows. Not even Mason got a decent question to go off of; just stuff about his district and what kind of people he knew in it.
Finally, after everything is said and done, I'm sitting on my bed constantly looking at the time. The red numbers glare back at me each time. 10:00. Let's get this over with. I get up and walk out the hall, checking to see if Marrissa had already left yet. If she hasn't I don't want to disturb her. I walk to the elevator and push the roof's floor on the button panel.
I'm late as always; my friends already waiting for me up on the roof. "Sorry for keeping you waiting," I apologize, "I kind of zoned out back there."
"Now's not the time, Jon," Ethan advises, "let's just get this over with."
I glance at the Capitol horizon, then reply, "Yeah, you're right. To make this short, I have an Idea for the teams." I look at the cousins. "Tyler, Brooklyn, Marticka, it'd be best to keep the family together." They glance at each other and agree. "Also, it'd be good to have Marrissa go along with you guys, since Marticka already knows her. You too, Claire."
No objections so far. I turn to another group of people. "I really hate this job, but we don't have any other choice. Billy and Geoff, I feel that you two should be together. I know it's kind of unfair odds compared to everyone else; you might want to join up with Joseph or Marticka's group."
There's a small silence, then Geoff quietly says, "No, I think we can handle ourselves." I nod towards him, then turn to the rest of them.
"And that leaves our group. The seven of us: me, Ethan, Mason, Tyler, Schuyler, Ashley, and John back together again. We've been together ever since the early days. I feel that we might have some luck if we stick together." I suddenly notice that Lapolla and Cronen weren't there. "Hey, has anyone seen Tyler, the other one, since the interviews were over?"
Schuyler shrugs. "I saw him run off as soon as the last interview was finished. I don't know where he went. Hey, what about that Joseph kid?"
I knew that would come up. "He has to find his own group of people to be with, because he certainly isn't coming with us."
I turn back to the group as a whole, "That's all I have to say. If you guys feel that the teams I have chosen are unfair, or if you just don't like them, you can go ahead and change them. These are just suggestions." No objections, I guess I did a good job. "I would like to say something before we part on our separate ways tonight.
"Thank you for all the things you've done over the years. I know that at times I may have seemed like a crummy person, let alone friend, but yet you all still stuck with me. I'm glad to have known all of you in this life. All of you have touched me in some way, even Tyler, Brooklyn, and Marrissa, despite the fact that I've only really gotten to know you over the last month. And when this is all over, I have a feeling that we will all see each other once again, living or dead.
"Over the last few days, I've been more depressed than I usually am because I knew that my whole pack of friends, including me, would be eliminated. Now, I feel differently about this. There's no point in fighting it while I can't change it. 'Enjoy your time while you can.' is something that someone recently said to me. Yet, it just took me until now to realize it. Thank you all…" My voice trails off and I find myself unable to speak anymore.
I don't think I can take anymore conversation tonight. There's a saying out that you should treat every day as if it was your last. I don't think the person who first said it imagined the situation ahead of us. I feel, no, I know that I won't win these Games. I won't let myself win. I don't have the heart, or skill, to kill my friends off like some murderer. I hope that I am taken out myself before I have to go face to face with anyone. I have no idea how to feel anymore; there are so many things to deal with at once. We'll have to see what happens tomorrow and the days that follow.
Tomorrow is where all the training matters. I may disagree with fighting about half of the tributes, but that doesn't mean that I can't help them win. I can still help one of my friends get through this death trap.
I can't start making plans yet. You don't know what's going to happen out there. You don't even know what type of field you'll be in! Again, we'll just see what happens from here on.
No matter what, though, there is one thing I need to do. I will not let myself go down without completing one goal. To get revenge on the one person who has given me so much grief over the years. I can forgive and forget only after so many times, but tonight was the last straw. I can't let him outlive me, if that sounds sinister enough.
Joseph, you are my first target.
Cruel friends are cruel...
I'm still working on adding more detail. If there's something really major that I'm missing, or if this whole thing is full out confusing, please let me know. I'll do the best I can to fix it.
Thank you again for reading. :3