There's a place that I know;
It's not pretty there and few have ever gone;
If I show it to you now;
Will it make you run away?
District Six Reapings
Avalon Caverly, 17 years old
It's the sound of the door slamming that wakes me up. My eyes take a while to adjust to the morning sunlight streaming through the blinds, it takes a few more minutes to get them fully open but when they do my nose picks up the mouth watering smell of bacon and I smile.
We rarely get bacon.
I'm the one that cooks.
I leap from my bed and run down the stairs as quickly as I can. My dad hasn't cooked a meal since mum died. I adopted the parental role in the family and had to be like a mother to my younger brother and a servant for my dad. He needed me. I don't hate him for it but if something is now cooking does that mean today is the day he's finally changed?
I smile and leap into the kitchen.
It's hard not be disappointed when I see my brother Chevy trying to adjust the single dial on the oven. It's an old and worn out thing. Not many can afford these and it was my grandmother's before she died and it passed down to us. It's definitely saved us during the harder parts of my life.
He turns around and his eyes light up when they meet mine.
"Look I made bacon." His smile is infectious and all disappointment at my dad perhaps finally returning to us disappears instantaneously. I hurry over to him and wrap him in a hug before looking down at the bacon.
Burnt but still edible.
"Good job Chevy. Is dad not here then?"
"No he left."
Ah yeah. The door woke me up.
I try to mask the sigh with a yawn and stretch out my arms. Chevy's eyes are still lit up with that childish innocence and I ruffle his hair before getting two plates out and dishing out breakfast. He sits round the table and waits patiently for me to place his food out in front of him. When I do he's on it like an animal.
It's hard not to feel a burning fury inside of me when I see him like this. Chevy is everything to me, everything I have left in this world. My dad is basically nothing. I love him but we don't have that bond anymore. I lost all my friends when I had to become a parent for him and obviously I no longer have my own mum. Chevy is everything. The fact that I have to see him like this, shoving bacon down his throat faster than a stray dog rips an old bone to shreds, is upsetting. It's like this everywhere though.
I smile at him but he doesn't keep his eyes on my own for long, he looks back down and eats the last bit of meat left on his plate. When he's finished the look in his eyes for more, the fact that I can tell he's still starving, is painful.
"Sorry Chevy. I have to save whatever we have left for the rest of today. Dad's out working though, he'll come back with more."
That's the only thing dad ever does. He knows we're here and still provides us with everything we need to get by. It's just at home where all the actual cooking and cleaning goes on is where he withdraws into his room and doesn't come out until the next morning.
"Margie said that today is the reaping. Do I really have to go?"
Chevy's not totally aware of the hunger games and what a reaping actually means. He knows those who go normally never actually return and he knows that people die. He doesn't know why they die and what actually happens to them to make them die. I don't let him watch the Hunger Games.
Since legally every household does, my dad actually for once will snap out of his trance and take Chevy away and keep him occupied whilst I stay downstairs and wrap myself up and stare out the corner of my eyes at the screen.
I could always look away but a part of me wants to know and take on the strategies that are shown. In case myself or Chevy ever was reaped. Just in case.
If Chevy was reaped I don't know what I'd ever do.
At least for now he's safe. Only three years left though. Just looking at his face and picturing his skin ice cold to the touch and his eyes void of light and left in darkness makes me want to scream. He doesn't seem to pay any attention to this and just moans when I nod at his question.
"Yes you do. I won't be able to stand with you but I'll help you find Margie and you two can watch at the back."
"This year she said was special. That four people have to go. Why isn't two good enough?"
I've asked myself the same thing. I have absolutely no idea why the Capitol feels the need to make our lives that much more miserable. Not only this year will we lose two of our very own we'll lose four. I'm staying realistic. District Six rarely ever gets a victor and I won't put my hopes up for this year's Hunger Games. Fourty eight tributes means certain death in my eyes.
"It's just a special year Chevy. Go on, go upstairs and pick out something smart to wear for today. I'll clean up."
He nods his head and runs out the room and up the stairs into his own as quickly as his little legs can carry him. I put my plate on top of his own and take them over to the sink, running the freezing water over them for a few seconds and drying them with an already dirty cloth.
I hear his footsteps above as he jumps around his room completely ignoring what I told him to do. I don't feel angry at him. I don't feel happy either. I just feel sad. Sad that he won't stay like that forever and I have to be the one to get him down to reality for him to truly understand without feeling hurt one day that I never told him.
I never want to be a parent when I grow up.
I love Chevy with all my heart but life is just too hard. It's too damn hard.
Athena Night, 17 years old
Through the ceiling I can hear Elly and Lily laughing as they run about the house. It brings a smile to my face, the familiar feeling of warmth flooding through me. I'm different around my younger step sister and her best friend. No more adventurous, risk taker Athena. Only big sister Athena who would do anything for her younger sister and her best friend.
I try to put the feeling of joy at their childish laughter into my next attack. I thrust the sword tip through the dummy's chest and relish the adrenaline that courses through me. I attack again, this time targeting the neck and with a clear and elegant slash, the head rolls to the ground by my feet trailing pure white cotton.
Training in the career districts is common, I remember seeing it all the time. Here though no one has the mentality that my Peacekeeper father has instilled in myself and recently my younger brother Percival. That's why some loathe me. There are those within the district who take things to the extreme and who knows what they might do to the family with a Peacekeeper father and two wannabe careers.
District travelling is not permitted. Except for Peacekeepers and even then the President himself has to give the all clear. Transferring from One to Six wasn't easy but I've made friends and a name for myself here. I'm happy in Six – probably happier than I was in One where everyone judged me solely on appearance. Here no one could give a damn about the way my hair complimented my skin tone.
"Don't bother Lily you won't reach it!" Elly giggles, the high pitched laugh reaching my ears and causing me to break out in my own fit of giggles. It's infectious, always has been with these two, I have to take a break to catch my breath.
Outside these walls I'm what you'd call a bit of a risk taker because I've seen the normal boring side of life and it's just not who I want to be. My little gang is made up of people who share the same feelings towards life. Some are more extreme than others but we still all partake in risky acts together. No one backs out. They're my second family.
In the house I train because my father wants me to volunteer when I turn eighteen. I'm not a hundred percent certain it's what I want. My step mother is from Six, she shares the exact same views as everyone else but with a Peacekeeper for a husband there's not much she can say to convince him otherwise.
He's a loving father and husband but when it comes to the Hunger Games there is no leeway.
"Athena! Athenaaaaa!" I quickly kick the head into the corner and sweep up the cotton into my hands. The swords don't need to be arranged in any sort of specific way. My dad normally likes to clean his private training room anyway so I leave everything else the way it is and walk up the stairs towards Elly and Lily.
The second I open the basement door arms wrap tightly around my waist. I look down and smile at the face of my little sister, beaming up at me.
Lily stands next to Elly with the same little smile on her face. The pair have their first reaping today but you wouldn't think that either of them were scared. I know they're terrified, despite their childish acts of running around and causing a mess they're very mature. Only a stronger minded person could try to replace the feelings of fear and worry into that of fun and excitement. To other people they're little girls trying to gain attention. But I know how strong they are. In a sense I admire my younger sister – she's who I would have wanted to be at twelve years old. But since I'm the oldest child I have to bring glory to my father. I'll do all I can to ensure that Elly doesn't follow my own or Percival's footsteps.
"There was a knock at the door asking for dad. I said he was at work at the Square getting stuff ready for the reaping. He is there right?"
I nod and gently unwrap her arms from around my waist. I didn't think it was possible but her smile grows even larger and she resumes chasing Lily round the house. Elly always like to impress me so the simplest of tasks gains her a sense of pride should I say she's done it correct. And even if she hadn't I would lie.
I would normally be out with my friends causing some last minute havoc right now. It's pretty funny irritating and stirring unrest amongst the Peacekeepers. Sure, my dad is a Peacekeeper and once or twice we've managed to catch him by surprise with some kind of prank and he doesn't even realise I was a part of the group. It's risky. But that's the point, I live for the thrill.
Today though both my parents are out so I have to look after Elly and Lily. Percival is no doubt out with the gang, we're part of the same group, but I couldn't be happier. I can get some last minute training which I've just finished and now I can relax with the girls before the actual reaping begins.
"Girls. Make sure you are ready though!"
I get a shriek and a squeal in response but I know they heard me and will eventually make sure they're dressed up nicely for the reaping. I begin walking upstairs. I have to make myself as pretty as I can. My dad has high standards – the perfect fighter, the most beautiful young woman the kindest daughter and sister. Outside I'm different Athena. No responsibility. But in these walls I have to be what my dad has raised me to be.
I have another district's traditions on my shoulders because that's who our family is. But now I have Elly who isn't my full sister, it's up to my step mother to dictate her life. I'm sure she's safe from the reaping, never having to volunteer. Lily too. As long as they're okay I'll gladly volunteer when the time comes about.
Koder Saffron, 12 years old
Aunty Harley tries to untie the cape from my neck, her hands grabbing on to thin air as I twist and struggle against her. I giggle. This is fun. Aunty Harley gets a hand on my shoulder but I push backwards and she stumbles letting me free. Ha take that evil witch!
I slash the air with my wooden sword and giggle some more at the look on her face. All witches are that ugly but it's good that I've made her sad. Evil people deserve to be sad and people like me, the knights, deserve to be the one to save the day. That's my job. Save the day from people like my Aunty Harley.
"You stupid boy. Just get back here, you can't wear a cape to the reaping."
"Don't tell me what to do evil old hag or I shall cut you down where you stand." My wooden sword makes a funny noise when I cut the air again. Aunty Harley looks super shocked, her mouth opens and closes like a fish. I turn around, bring my cape flapping over my shoulder and sprint out of the open front door and onto the streets of the District. A lot of the people look at me. Some smile and laugh. Others shout after me to stop. Those are the bad guys. The evil ones like my aunty.
My mummy used to read to me about those types of people and it's now my job, since she died and went to the sky, to help protect the good guys from the evil people. My Aunty Harley tries to stop me but she's not very good. I hit her once with my sword and she cried for a few hours cursing me with some words I've never heard of.
She's just weak.
My daddy sometimes comes home and that's when she doesn't really show her face. I like it when she's not around because I can spend time with daddy. I don't see him very much but he's like a grown up knight. He comes home with tasty food and a little bit of money that helps our family. He helps Aunty Harley though which doesn't make much sense but I don't stop him. He's grown up and a good knight so I don't want to argue with him.
"Hey kid watch it!"
My cape flaps against the leg of a very tall stranger. I glance over my shoulder at him and smile. His eyes meet mine and he just rolls them and looks away, talking to a very tall girl next to him. So many people here are giants like the ones in the stories. Giants can be good but some are evil and he must be one of them. I would attack him with my sword but there's something called a reaping going on and my daddy said I had to be there with Aunty Harley.
I am NOT travelling with her so I'm making my own way. Anyway knights like me don't need help from anyone unless I say so.
The large crowds seem to split apart when we reach what I think is called the Square. A lot of the evil Peacekeepers are standing around and ordering people where to go. They don't keep the peace so I'm confused why they're named that but they're giant as well and at the moment I don't go to attack one. Mummy used to tell me about them and how they could hurt not just me but people I care about. I don't want daddy to get hurt so I join the end of one of the lines and wait for my turn at the little table.
The lady looks at my cape and the sword raised high, rolls her eyes, and grabs my arm. Before I can smack her with my sword she stabs me. Ouch. OUCH! Blood trickles down my finger and I feel woozy. Am I dying? No I can't die.
"Kid move along." She clicks her fingers and an evil Peacekeeper puts his hand on my shoulder and starts to push me towards a large group of people who look my age. I don't think I'm dead so I pull away from him and walk to join them.
"Hey Koder." A little girl smiles at me and I give the biggest grin I can back. She must be a princess because she has lovely blonde hair and a little pink dress. I stand next to her and let the sword point towards the ground.
Up on the stage a little old man with a stick limps on and nearly trips. He's the mayor. He's old but he's evil as well. I know about the Hunger Games and I know that there are a lot of bad people. Those big bullies called careers who are giants as well. The Capitol is the city that rules us all, they're the biggest evil next to Aunty Harley. Maybe the witch works for them? Yeah that must be it.
He reads something out to all of us. It's pretty long and boring but when it's over another person walks onto the stage and someone starts laughing. She's dressed all funny with a big orange dress with little flowers growing out of it. Her hair is bright orange as well and when she talks I can't really understand her. I hear some familiar words but the rest is all jibberish. The princess next to me grabs my hand when she walks over to one of the bowls. This is where the names are called.
"Don't worry dear princess. You are safe with me." I squeeze her hand back and she looks at me with a funny sort of light in her eyes. I shrug my shoulders and don't really pay much attention to the name called.
A little girl steps out from my section, near to the princess and I raise my sword. No. She can't go that's not fair. I step forward but another girl shouts out something from the back and the other girl starts crying but with a smile on her face as well. A volunteer. Is she like a career then? She looks like one when she steps forward with a horrible grin on her face and steps up onto the stage. She looks over at the little girl and something else seems to show but she goes back to looking really evil.
A lot of people are shocked but we don't have time to try to let a volunteer sink in. My eyes are still on her evil face when the next name is called out. A boy with a long weird name walks forwards, shaking his head and his long hair dancing in the wind. I feel bad for him but there's not much I can do to help him. He stares with horror up at the evil girl on stage and lowers his eyes to the stage floor. Poor guy.
The next girl is quite thin and is crying. She's pretty but looks really hungry. If I had some food I'd give her some but she picks up the pace and starts crying when she stands next to the other boy who's still shaking his head. This is so bad. The evil girl is still smiling. Ugh I want to attack her so bad.
The princess looks at me with wide eyes and her face goes a funny white colour. That's me... so I'm going to the Hunger Games. I start to step out and a lot of people shake their heads and mumble something about it not being fair. I'm going to fight but I like fighting and I'll also be able to put a stop to the evil people.
"You're all safe now good people. I shall slay those who hurt you!" I run up to the stage, my cape flapping behind me and shake the hands of everyone but the evil girl. She looks down at me, tilts her head and shrugs her shoulders.
I know that people die in the Hunger Games but I'm a knight and I know how to fight people. I'm good at hurting evil people.
I see Aunty Harley in the back. I hurt her because she's a witch.
Why is she crying though? Witches don't cry unless they're in pain or realize they're evil plans have been ruined. Is she crying because she's in pain about me going... that's weird... or is she crying because she had some plan to hurt me?
That must be it.
The world is full of evil people like her. I have to stop them all. Knight Koder to the rescue!
Rhaegal Cyrefinn, 16 years old
I'm supposed to cry at this point, right?
I guess I should but really what on earth is the point in crying and letting yourself feel hopeless. I'm not going to boost my own chances by getting my parents to fill my head with complete shit and I'm not going to let myself feel as crap as I can by letting my parents see me weeping on the floor.
If I die I die. I sure as hell won't go without a fight though. Ha. That will shock everyone when they see me in the Hunger Games. I bet right now they're all wondering how long I'll last, most deciding instantly I'm gone the second the gong rings out through the Arena. People and their assumptions.
It's their assumptions I love however, proving a point and surprising everyone will be thrilling. Too bad I have to let them see Rhaegal as he is, if I win that's it for staying in the shadows. The Capitol won't let me hide away and lurk about with the power I've so kept within myself. Cameras shoved in my face, microphones pushed right up to my mouth and those who idolise clothing that really should never be worn coming up to me and dressing me up like a doll.
I don't want to be their puppet but I don't want to die. I have no qualms about killing, I mean come on based on what I already do in this District I doubt when it comes to fighting for my life I'll hesitate to drive whatever weapon I have into another child's body.
I won't derive any pleasure from it ... or would I? I mean when I'm in the darkness, sticking to the shadows and stalking my target it's a power like no other. And to then follow them to their own house, knock them out without knowing and steal their belongings. I don't even keep what I steal. I just like the power of it all and knowing that the entire district thinks I'm just an anti-social, independent creep, makes it even better. They don't think I'm anything but a weakling and I've dealt more damage than any of them.
So would I like killing?
If I like the power and thrill of theft and knowing my target is completely helpless; when it comes to taking a life... I don't know... I'm not a psychopath... at least... am I?
I shake my head and keep my eyes locked on the door as it slowly opens on its hinges. A typical and cliché thing right now I'm sure which happens every year is to leap into my parents arms and let my tears fall free and let them stroke my hair.
When I was reaped I thought it would be fun to play the weakling they all think I am. Shaking my head and not even keeping eye contact with any of my fellow tributes was fun. Knowing they'd all be so shocked when I begin to do my best to survive and not let myself get killed... it was hard not to smile up on that stage. I'm not going to cry now. My parents know I'm different to what I play in everyday life out on the streets but they don't know the extent.
I love them. I'm their son of course I do but we don't exactly have a close bond outside of that.
"Rhaegal." They both say my name with hints of emotion within their voices but I can't tell you how happy I am that neither are crying or swooping in to "save" their son.
"I'll miss you, maybe you don't believe that but I will."
Come on I'm not cold hearted to the point of saying get out. I want them here. I need a goodbye from them and I truly mean it. I will miss them.
Both of them move forwards together and stand a few feet in front of where I'm sitting. They don't step forward to hug me, I don't lean upwards to try to either. I don't know... do I want a hug?
I don't need false hope instilled into me and I don't feel helpless like I'm sure the girl Avalon does. Athena is interesting and that Koder... clearly messed up in the head but he could be fun.
"I'm sure you'll do well son, don't give up whatever you do."
Empty words really. They can't possibly know what it must feel like to go through the Hunger Games and what the likelihood is that a tribute will give up in a situation where death is literally looming over their heads. But I nod my head and attempt a weak smile. My father's eyes light up for a split second at this interaction. What you see is what you get with the pair of them, the same can't exactly be said for me. If only they knew...
"I know Athena's type. Her father is a Peacekeeper and she moved from One. She's just like those you see on the TV. She's ruthless and won't pause to kill you. Koder is a sweet boy but filled with fantasies to the point of a complete detachment from reality, get on his bad side and present yourself as a source of evil he might attack. Avalon will ally with a young tribute because I know her father and he's not with it at all. Show harm towards a young tribute she'll hurt you."
Wow. My mother knows a certain amount about my fellow tributes.
"How do you know so much."
"I help around the district doing the odd job here and there. You pick up on stuff."
"I'll keep what you said in mind, so should I ally with any of them?"
"Perhaps Avalon and Koder, Athena will try to get in with the careers and no offence Rhaegal..."
"I know, I'm not exactly what you'd call a career."
She smiles and we finally hug just as the door opens. My father even pats my back and then I'm left alone until its time to go.
Ally with Avalon and Koder. I don't think so.
I'm going this alone because that's what I know best. I can do this if I keep a clear head and remain focused. The careers aren't the only tributes with a chance this year.
Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson
Author's Note: Apologies yet again for the late update. I always promise this won't happen and as my luck would have it something goes wrong. I moved house and internet at the old house got cut off and then my neighbour let me use her internet for a short while but the connection was awful but now I've moved and have my own internet so all WAS good. And then as my luck would have it my laptop broke -.- I've ordered a new one and a couple of days ago I finally fixed this crappy thing but it's still awful and ugh. I hate technology.
I struggled with this chapter in terms of who should get each POV. I really didn't think any of these tributes deserved a goodbye POV so I just allocated that POV at random and then gave the others based on who I think should get what. This was the hardest one in my eyes about who should get which POV but I hope this chapter was alright :D
Oh yeah my portrayal of younger side characters. I understand that some may come across immature, take Elly and Lily, and others are more mature like Chevy. I base my writing of these ages on what I know. I'm the oldest of six and use my siblings as examples so apologies if you don't like that two 12 years old are quite immature compared to what you'd expect.
Koder is meant to be that childish. He's like Aida from Ranching if you ever read that before I discontinued it, just in my mind even more extreme xD
As usual a question!
Out of these four, who is your favourite and why?
Halfway through now! Sorry it's been just under a month, I'm not even going to promise regular updates because I'll just jinx myself xD