Hey! This is my first fanfiction on here. It was actually written specifically for my friends on the Hunger Games wiki, but feel free to read and review it if you'd like! Reviews are greatly appreciated, especially constructive criticism – and note that by 'constructive' criticism, I don't mean rude or insulting comments. Thanks!
Dark. It's dark, so dark that I can barely see a thing. I feel my way around, occasionally bumping into walls or tripping and falling onto the ground face-first. But I always stand back up, and I continue to glance around, hoping to spot some sort of light source. I hold my hands up in front of my eyes. I can just barely see their outline, but once again, this room is filled to the ceiling with pitch black shadows and they're quite hard to see.
I see a flame in the distance, and a gasp escapes my lips as I hurry over to it. My gray gaze never leaves the flickering flame. I reach it and hold my palms over it, sighing as it warms my skin and erases the goose bumps that had formed on my forearms. Just as I'm about to feel a little content despite that I'm still in a cell-like area, I feel cold fingers lock around my wrist and tug me away from the little golden flame. The figure shoves me across the room and I find myself tumbling down a flight of stairs, the edges of the wooden steps scraping against my elbows. I eventually plummet to the ground, my back meeting the cool metal floor, and I hear the flick of a light switch before the room brightens just a bit. I blink a few times, letting my eyes adjust, before I look around, still unsure as to where I am. I was right; this is like a cell. Thump, thump. My head jerks to the side. Someone is making their way down the stairs. So many pictures fill my mind; a psychotic killer, an evil scientist. I push myself up against the back wall of the cell, pulling my legs to my chest and wrapping my arms around my knees. The person reaches the bottom of the stairs, and my eyes widen a bit at who I see. He doesn't resemble a mad scientist or a murderer; no, he's just a simple boy, with dark hair that falls to his cheekbones and strange amber eyes that match the color of the flame. He reaches his hand out towards me and places it on my shoulder. His eyes wander around my face, as if he's examining each of the features and details.
That's when I hear it. A scream. I'm not sure who the scream belonged to until I notice that my jaw is open and my eyes are nearly the size of marbles. The boy removes his hand, and looks at me with a confused expression. And then he screams as well, when the realization that he's in pain finally hits him. He slowly turns his head over his shoulder so that he can see the arrow that is sticking out of his back. He coughs a few times, spluttering out drops of dark red blood, before crumpling to the ground. My hands fly to my mouth and I bend down next to him, placing my palm over his heart. I can hear another person calling his name, someone that's nowhere near yet obviously close enough to shoot an arrow at the boy's back. I'm starting to feel dizzy and I don't hear them say his full name, but I can hear a C. A C or a K. And that's possibly what his name starts with.
The boy probably might have died in this dream but as I begin to wake up, I have this strange sense that he's still out there, somewhere in the world, waiting for me.
The loud rumbling of thunder awakens me completely and I sit up, glands of sweat dripping off of my pale forehead. I run a hand through my wavy brunette hair before kicking my legs over the side of the bed and slowly standing up. The ground shakes a bit as the sound of thunder roars through the air again, and I glance out of the window, watching as thousands of raindrops fall quickly from the dark, cloudy sky and patter wildly against the ground. Lightning strikes in between the clouds, illuminating the sky for just a millisecond before it's once again dark. Sighing to myself, I push open my bedroom door and walk just a few steps before I'm standing in my living room. I reside in a very small house, as my parents and I live on the outskirts of District 5. We're not the poorest people in the district, but we're most certainly nowhere near being wealthy, either. I spot my dad sitting at the kitchen table, his eyes glued on the daily newspaper. My mom turns around the kitchen counter and walks over to me, holding two pieces of buttery toast. She hands them to me, her gaze softer than usual and a sad smile on her face. I then remember what day it is. It's reaping day. I sigh again. The thunder I hear seconds later also reminds me that its pouring outside; what perfect weather for a day like this.
I sit down at the kitchen table across from my dad and take a bite out of my toast, the freshly heated bread scorching the tip of my tongue. He sets down the newspaper and grins at me, his eyes bright with excitement. I try to ignore the bile that I feel rising in my throat and I resist the urge to look away from him. My father is a Hunger Games fanatic, and he admires the people who volunteer. He expects me to volunteer before I'm no longer eligible, and if I don't, then apparently, I will "no longer be his daughter". I can't even imagine what will happen to me and my mother if he finds out that we have been disgusted by the Hunger Games all along. My dad reaches his arm across the table and holds my hands, that repulsing smile still plastered on his tanned face. "Ah, reaping day," he says, almost dreamily, as he looks away from me and at my mother. "A wonderful day with an amazing opportunity. Too bad it's storming, but it's still a great day nonetheless." He glances back at me. "You better get all prettied up, Julia. The reapings start in about two hours."
I nod and shovel the last piece of the toast into my mouth, pushing the other piece towards my dad. I swallow the bread and say, "You have that piece. I'm... not that hungry." The truth is, I was pretty hungry, but I could get something to eat after the reapings. I just needed to get away from my father. He sickened me to the bone and I could barely look at him. I stood up from the table and hurried back into my room, shutting the door softly behind me as I entered. I sat down on the edge of my bed, folding my hands over my lap and staring up at the ceiling. I started to think about the dreams I've been having for the past year or so. The ones about the strange, dark-haired boy with the amber eyes. I don't know who he is or why I've been dreaming about him. Maybe he's just a figment of my imagination. Maybe I'm insane. But for some reason, I feel like that isn't true. I feel like that boy is out there somewhere. I lean backwards, rubbing my temples. Yeah, I'm crazy.
Suddenly, I hear something knocking on my window. I turn around and see two familiar faces at my window, drenched from head to toe in rainwater. I stare at my two best friends in disbelief and pry the window open for them. "What the hell, guys?" Jackie and Summer climb into the room, water dripping from their hair and staining the carpet below their feet. "Why did you come? And in the pouring rain?"
Summer leans against the wall, wrapping her hands around her dark blonde hair and wringing it dry. "We were bored," she tells me, as if that's the most logical excuse in the history of excuses. "We already got dressed and since our parents are both at work and we had nothing to do, we decided to come here." She shrugs and folds her arms over her chest, bright blue eyes blinking innocently. I raise an eyebrow, examining her soaked turquoise dress.
"Well, yeah, but you basically ruined your outfit coming here," I say. Summer rolls her eyes.
"Who cares? It's just the reaping." She flips her hair back over her shoulder. I sigh. I have OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so I'm a bit irritated with the way Summer's dress is, but I try my best not to complain. I take a look at Jackie, who's made herself at home, with her head on the floor and her feet up on the side of my bed. She brushes her brunette hair out of her face and wipes her wet hands carelessly on her jeans. I sit down next to her and ask out of the blue, "Do you guys think I should volunteer this year?"
Immediately, Jackie sits up. She stares at me with utter disbelief. "What? No! Why would you want to volunteer?" Summer sits down on my other side. Her and Jackie both looked completely shocked that I would say something like that. I don't know why. They know that my dad wants me to.
"Guys, I'm going to have to volunteer eventually," I remind them. "Or else my dad will disown me or something." My two friends exchange uncertain glances, and Summer nods slowly.
"Well, yeah, but..." She shakes her head. "You can't volunteer this year. You're only fourteen. You haven't had enough training yet."
"I can learn how to fight at the training center before the Games begin. I get two days to practice. I would be fine."
"No, Julia!" I look at Jackie. She looks upset. "You can't volunteer. You can't just leave us!"
"Jackie..." She cries quietly into her hands, and I feel really bad. I didn't mean to hurt her. "But Jackie, I have to..."
"Why do you seem so willing to volunteer, anyways?" Summer seems less upset, but she still looks frustrated and a bit distraught.
"I..." I know exactly why I feel like I need to volunteer, but I'm scared to say it to them. I don't know what their reactions will be like. Jackie lifts her head up and wipes her eyes with the back of her hands, before they both look at me expectantly.
"Why, Julia?" Summer asks again, her voice quiet. I take a deep breath.
"I... Well..." I pause for a moment, before speaking again. "Well, you know how I'm bullied often by the popular girls at my school? How I'm humiliated and treated badly nearly each and every day?"
"Julia..." Summer sighs. She seems to know exactly where this is going. My arms and legs stiffen, and I start to feel a bit angry at the thought of my bullies. Yet this anger is just a form of my sadness. My depression. I try to fight the tears that threaten to fall.
"Don't Julia me," I hiss, standing up. Jackie and Summer stare up at me, their faces emotionless. I have breakdowns like this often, and they're used to them. They've gotten to the point where they allow me to rant, allow me to release my anger on them. They don't mind. They know I don't mean a word I say to them, if I'm seemingly rude to them. They just sit back and listen, and I appreciate that. Nonetheless, I begin speaking, my tone raised, loud enough to cause my friends to flinch but soft enough to keep myself unheard by my parents in the next room. "It's not my fault I feel this way. The only reason I'm volunteering is because of them, okay?" I take my forefinger and my thumb and pinch the bridge of my nose, squeezing my eyelids shut and letting an exasperated sigh escape my throat. "They bully me every day. They make me feel like I don't deserve to be on this earth. And I don't! I should give them what they want. I should go into the Hunger Games and end my life, because that would make them happy and put everyone else at peace."
"Why would you say that, Julia?" Jackie asks me. "Why would you say you don't deserve to be on this earth?" She looks sad again, but this time, I pay her no mind. I slam my fist into the wall, not caring that my parents probably hear the noise on the other side of it.
"Because I don't!" I take a deep breath, trying to relax myself. I sit back down across from Summer and Jackie, and they stare at me, concerned.
"Guys, fate has two choices for me. One of them is to stay here and continue to endure the pain that I'm forced to feel already, or finally let myself be free of it." I push a piece of my brown hair behind my ear, sighing. "And in order to that, I have to die. I will either win or die and I'm supposing the latter."
"Don't say that." Summer rises to her feet and offers me her hand. I grab it and she helps it up. "C'mon, let's find you something to wear."
I guess she's done talking about this. I want to ask her if she still thinks I should volunteer, but I decide not to push the topic further. Jackie opens my closet and pulls out a knee-length black dress.
"Does this work?" she inquires. I nod.
"Sure." It's the one dress I have that I want to wear the most, as it matches my current emotions completely. My friends turn their backs to me as I slip off my pajamas and pull on the dress. Once I have the back of it zipped up, they turn back around and smile at me. They seem like themselves again. They're not sad or gentle towards me. They're the two hyper, exciting friends that I've known and loved for years now.
"You look pretty," Jackie tells me. Then she giggles. "But you have a bed-head." She hands me a brush and I run it through the hair, wincing as I attempt to get the tangles out. Once my hair is smooth enough, I tie it back into a ponytail and exit my bedroom with my friends by either of my side. My dad sees us and he simply chuckles, offering Jackie and Summer a welcoming smile.
"Hey, girls," he greets them. "I didn't expect to see you guys here." He sees their dresses, which have dried just a bit by this point, but are still obviously wet. "Would you like to change? Julia has some extra clothes that you could wear."
"Nah. We're all going to get wet again, anyways," Summer assures him, glancing at a nearby window. Sure enough, rain is still shooting down like shards of ice from the sky. My dad nods and looks down at the watch on his wrist.
"It's 1:45," he tells us. "Which means we have 15 minutes until the reapings begin." He turns around so that he's facing the bedroom he shares with my mom, and claps his hands together. "Pronto, Tamara! We don't want to be late!" He hurries into the room to check on my mother. I turn to look at my two friends, a frown drawn on my smooth ivory face. I grab my white jacket off of the coat rack and slip it on over my dress, flicking the hood up onto my head. I slowly push the front door open, and it makes a loud creaking sound that my dad hears from where he and my mother are at across the house. He shouts at me not to leave yet, but I ignore him. I step into the rain, drops of water splashing the hood of my jacket and swishing below my feet as I start to walk. I glance over my shoulder at Jackie and Summer, who begin following me. As we head towards the town square, my parents just now leaving the house, Summer turns to me and asks, "So are you still going to volunteer?"
I shrug. "I...I'm not sure."
As we walk, I think about it. Do I really want to volunteer? Do I really want to throw my life away?
Maybe I wouldn't be throwing it away. Maybe I'm strong enough to win. But even if I don't win, I'll finally escape this nightmare that I live every day.