HELLO! My name is My Word's Live, and thank you for reading this chapter of... THE 79TH HUNGER GAMES! (Caesar Flickerman voice) WELCOME! TO CHAPTER 2! Where people get reaped, and people cry, and... Yeah. Well I hope you read this and enjoy it! ;) And a reminder to check out the other stories in this series, which are kinda (vitally) important for this series to work. So if you are interested, just go to my fanfiction page and check out the others! (Which are written by either me, or my Co-Author, My Words Speak) Thank you again! Read and please Review!
Nicholas Calder was dying.
At least, that was what the doctors told him. In a years time you'll be dead. Then it was nine months, then six, then two, and most recently one.
He did not feel that there was anything wrong with him, but the doctors sad there was. They had showed him various test results but he could make no sense of them.
Eight months ago, when he had first been told he was beyond help, he had been fifteen years old. He had been on a class field trip to the nearest power plant, to help the class learn about District 5's industry, power.
They had just been about to get on the bus, but the supervisor had not noticed that Nicholas had stayed behind to talk to one of the power plant workers, because he had been considering owning and operating a power plant when he graduated from school.
He had asked if he could take a look over by the nuclear reactors. The worker had smiled and said, "It's always good to see an enthusiastic youngster. Sure, knock yourself out."
No one ever went near the reactors, most people just left them alone because they only ever used nuclear power in the case of a war, and nuclear power was more District 13's thing, anyway.
That's why no one knew there was a leak.
Ever since he had been told he was going to die from the radiation before he turned seventeen, he had always been subject to sudden fits of paranoia and doubt.
What's happening to me? Why am I still alive? Why did no one notice the leak? Were they trying to kill me? No that's stupid. Yeah I'm stupid! And good for nothing! I'm slowly dying and I'm not going to make it to my seventeenth birthday! Maybe it would be better if the radiation just took me now...
Lenna Shorek left her last class of the day feeling relieved. She had been sure she had failed the test but she hadn't. In fact she hadn't missed a question!
The professor had praised her work above everyone else's, earning her lots of nasty looks from the other students, girls and guys alike.
It definitely wasn't easy being a fourteen year old in the most advanced college in Panem. She had lived in District 9 most of her life, trying to hide the fact that she was smarter than all the rest of her peers combined, but it hadn't been easy. She would fail every test she took, never do her homework, and sometimes even skip classes if she felt she was acting too smart. In every sense of the word she was a juvenile delinquent.
But she wasn't!
She just was trying to fit in with the others, but when she tried it always ended up making things a whole lot worse, and she would go into the woods, where no one would find her. No one would even bother looking for her, probably. She was a pathetic excuse for a teenager.
When she started the seventh grade was when she had made the decision to just bomb out on school and learning.
Her concerned parents (the only ones in the world who would care if she got run over by a train) had called the school guidance counselor, and they set up a date to meet.
Her parents had personally escorted her there so she couldn't ditch.
The counseling session had been a breeze. The counselor had said she was going to give her an IQ test to see if she needed "special help."
The questions were ridiculously easy, but she tried to get as many wrong as she could without causing the guidance counselor to think she needed help.
After the test, the counselor looked at Lenna over the top of her glasses and asked, "Did you do your very best on that test?"
For some reason, the guidance counselor's glare was making her uncomfortable, and before she could think what she was doing she blurted, "I got all those wrong on purpose!"
There had been a heavy silence, then the guidance counselor said, "That wasn't an IQ test. It was the admittance exam to Preston School in District 5."
Preston School was the most advanced school in Panem and it only accepted about two students a year. She had heard the test was wickedly hard.
To make the long story short, she had been admitted to Preston, having passed the exam with flying colors. Just when her life had been beginning to look up again, she had run into the same problem she had had in District 9. She just could not fit in.
The reaping started promptly at 12:00, noon. It was a hot, humid day in District 5, and the heavy air was threatening to smother Nicholas.
"The girl tribute for District 5... Lenna Shorek!"
A short, sullen looking girl stepped out of the crowd, Nicholas remembered seeing her in the Preston school yearbook, because his dad worked there and so he brought home the yearbook every year. He had no idea she was still in the reaping, he had just thought she was really REALLY short for her age.
"And the boy tribute... Nicholas Calder!"
No! I can't do anything remember! I'm the good for nothing idiot who's going to die in a month! Why me? Why me getting reaped? I'm going to die anyway!
Lenna looked over at Nicholas. He kept muttering under his breath like he was talking to himself. She was sure he would hate her too.
Susan Zammer was among the poorer people of District 6. She had been good friends with the mayor's daughter Lina Mals, but she was killed in the 76th Games, three year ago.
After her death things had slowly began to fall apart. Her family had been living in a coat propped up on sticks pretty much and their only source of food was Lina and Susan's tesserae that she took out every year.
Somewhere along the line, about a year and a half ago, they started sending spoiled food for the tesserae. Susan did not know it was spoiled however until two of her brothers died. She had frantically searched for the cause and when she had finally found out it was the food, another brother and a sister were dead. So she only had one sibling left.
She had had to find work somewhere. Her parents were out of the question, since her father had died when she was seven years old and her mom had left shortly after.
Her only sibling left was a sister, Kailin. She was thirteen years old, and she was the only reason Susan went through the torture of going to her job each day, where she was underpaid, and overworked.
The reaping day was bittersweet because she had a day off from her rotten job, but of course there was the ever present hand of death over every one of the kids at the town square, including her and Kailin...
Gregory Sattin was a jerk. There was no way around it. He hated it, but no matter how hard he tried to change it, he WAS!
He thought to a few days ago, his last attempt to be social.
The girls looked at him in disgust. One of them muttered to the other, "What a creeper, he's just pretending to be nice so he can take advantage of us later."
Gregory's blood boiled in anger. He wrestled to keep it down, but the anger rushing to his head was just too much. He felt as if he kept his mouth shut any longer his whole head might actually explode.
"YEAH WELL! I BET YOU WOULDN'T KNOW NICE IF IT CAME UP AND STOLE YOUR MAKEUP!"
The girls looked at him in disdain. "See... I told you."
He was just not a people person. And for a good reason. As a young child, he had been raised in the District 6 orphanage, where everyone was taught to be bitter and indifferent to the world and the people around them. The kids were worked hard and only given a piece of stale bread at the end of the day, and their "caregivers" had as much food as they pleased.
When the kids complained and said it wasn't fair, they just laughed and said The world wasn't fair so they should get used to it.
When he was twelve years old, he had finally been adopted by a kind family. They had him in their best interest, and although he didn't act like it, he actually cared for them.
But he yelled at them, and was sarcastic and disrespectful. He just could not shake the bitter boy in the orphanage. When he was mean and cruel, he usually ran to his room and slammed the door, and locked it. He would then lean with his back to the door and try to stand strong but would end up sliding down to the ground eventually, hot tears running down his face as he tried to shake loose of the nasty unlikable guy he had become.
The day of the reaping was bright, sunny and hot. The heat was not the only thing making Gregory sweat. He had had another outburst at his parents shortly before leaving for the reaping, and it was a particularly bad one.
"No KAILIN!" Came a yell from the older girls. A panicked Susan rushed forward, her messy ponytail falling out of place.
"Don't do it, Susie," said Kailin in a choked voice. Tears were beginning to form in her eyes.
"I have to Kailin, you're all I have left." she said in a desperate voice.
"I was the one who got picked. I don't want you to die for me!"
"Girls..." the escort said impatiently.
"I'm going to win for you, Susie," said Kailin as the sisters hugged each other.
"And now for the boys! Gregory Sattin!"
His heart jumped up into his throat. And stayed there.
Sadie Simmons was pretending to be a guy.
She was eighteen years old, she was stronger, faster, and a whole lot tougher than guys her age. It did not come naturally however. She had had to work for years to get like she was.
It had started at age ten when she was in the fifth grade. A mean girl called Shalene had made fun of her in P.E. because they were rope climbing and she could not make her way to the ceiling. Then after P.E was over she was also teased for not wearing makeup.
They were the stupidest things, really, but they drove Sadie over the edge. She had always had what guidance counselors would call "anger issues" but what she called "instinct."
Every day after that, she had exercised privately. It was grueling, almost to the point of torture, and starting in sixth grade she neglected homework. Of course she had been made fun of for that too, but she quietly told herself she would one day get revenge.
That day came in December of her junior year. It was bitterly cold, and when they got out of school sleet was hammering the streets. It was already almost dark, and the little remaining light was quickly being swallowed by the night.
Sadie had pulled on her coat and followed Shalene, who had never stopped making her life miserable since that day in the fifth grade. Shalene had went over to what residents of District 7 called "The Chasm" because it was, well... a chasm.
The sides of The Chasm were icy and slick from the sleet, and Sadie could feel the cold from the frozen ground through her boots.
Shalene's face was in her hands, and her shoulders were shaking like she was crying. Sadie took slow halting steps forward, being careful of the icy spots.
She grabbed Shalene by the back of her coat and turned her around and lifted her up slightly so they were eye to eye.
Shalene's face was bright red from the cold, and there were tear streaks down her cheeks.
"You have been my personal torturer for the last seven years." she growled.
Shalene took several gasping breaths, and looked over her shoulder. They were standing right on the precipice of The Chasm.
"I have been-" suddenly Sadie slipped on a spot frozen over by the sleet. It caught her off guard, and she let go of Shalene to flail her arms and regain balance. But Shalene, who had been abruptly dropped by Sadie, could not find her footing before disappearing over the edge of The Chasm.
Sadie rushed over but could not see the body. The fading light made her strain her eyes but there was no sign of the girl she had inadvertently killed.
The reason she was pretending to be a guy?
Only the guys were allowed to go mining for minerals down in The Chasm.
Andrew Schalk was chopping down trees when it happened, the fell stroke that ripped his back open. He was never the same again.
It had happened last October, when he was chopping trees for the first fires of the season. It had been unusually cold lately and he and his brothers had cleaned out their chimney the day before. That morning he had woken up to frost on his window pane, and his father stuck his head through the door.
"We're going to be stocking up on firewood today, son," he said.
Andrew had nodded and got his axe that was leaning against his bedpost.
The morning was brisk but sunny, but the sun gave no warmth. He could see the wisps of his breath in the air.
He felt the blade of his axe, and through his thick leather glove he could feel the sharpness of it.
He set to work on the large overhanging branches of an oak tree near the yard. After about twenty minutes he began to sweat. His face was red from the work and the cold.
He was so busy that he did not notice his older cousin Joey coming up to him, and Joey did not notice him either.
Quick as a flash, Joey's axe slashed through Andrew's back. There was a sudden intense pain before he collapsed on the ground and everything went black.
When he woke up he was surrounded by people and there was a distinct scent of apple cider in the air.
He tried to sit up, but a streak of pain hit his back.
"AGHGHH!" he let out a yell of pain.
Joey looked at him guiltily. "I'm sorry..."
"Sorry...for what?" Andrew said with gritted teeth from the pain.
Joey took a deep breath and said his next words in a jumbled rush. "IwashelpingcutdowntreesandIdidn'tseeyouandyoudidn 'tseemeandIwasabouttocutdownatreeandIdidn'tseeyous oIsortofcutyourbackopenandit'sreallynastyandIdidn' tmeantoI'MSORRY!"
Andrew's head was spinning from all the words.
"Maybe we should just show him," his dad said and helped him out of the bed. The slightest movement caused bolts of pain to shoot diagonally across his back. His dad helped him over to a mirror and Andrew looked over his shoulder at the wound.
It was an ugly scar that started at his right shoulder and went down to his lower back. The flesh around the wound was bright pink and swollen, and the scar was jagged and deep.
As Andrew stared in numbed shock at his back, Joey gave an awkward cough. He was sweating, even though it was not particularly warm in the room.
"There's one more thing the doctors said..." Joey began tentatively.
When there was silence he continued. "They said, you're never going to be able to do anything harder than walking for the rest of your life."
The day of the reaping was a hot, humid day, there were heavy clouds hanging over District 7 but they refused to bring rain.
The sticky air made the reaping even more ominous than usual, and the escort read a girls' name. "Sadie Simmons!"
A tall buff girl stepped out of the crowd. of course, it would be in my last year, Sadie thought As the punishment for... she could not finish the thought.
"And now the boy tribute for this year is, Andrew Schalk!"
Joey jumped out of the crowd, but Andrew was too quick even with his injury.
"I'm not gonna let you do it Joey," Andrew said in a warning tone.
"But what about your-" Joey stopped mid sentence. If Andrew was really going to the Hunger Games none of the other tributes needed to know about his incapacitating injury.
"My what." Andrew said coldly.
"It's... nothing," Joey said in a careful tone. He went back to stand in the crowd, but when no one was looking he silently left of the town square.
Death. Death. Death. Max Ferguson saw it everywhere. Put him in any situation and he would find death. Math class, the trees killed to make the paper and pencil. Sports practice, all the freak accidents that permanently injured or killed. Dinner time, the animals and plants killed and cleaned and cut and brought to his plate.
Some said he was overly cautious, some said he was traumatized, some said he was paranoid, and some said he was just plain crazy.
Most people went with that last one.
Max had not always been like he was. It had began two years ago, in the seventh grade, on a gloomy Friday in November.
The leaves had fallen, but snow was yet to come to District 8. Max Ferguson had been the "golden boy" of his class, the best at sports, the most popular, he had a personality bigger than life, and he thought the girl he liked might like him too.
His friends had been telling him so for ages, but he was convinced they were pulling his leg. That day at school had been boring, like usual, and when he and his friends were hanging out at his locker after school Max saw her leave out a different door than usual.
Thinking that she might be alone for once, and he might get a chance to talk to her without all her giggly friends, he slammed the locker door shut in excitement and said a hurried goodbye to his friends, and dashed toward the door.
"Dude, the bus is that way!" yelled Duncan Tellestan.
He ignored Duncan and shoved open the door. A rush of cold air hit him. It was freezing, and the overhanging clouds promised snow.
Marian Chrome, the girl mentioned earlier, was walking along a sidewalk. As he ran to catch up to her a few flakes of snow began to float down from the sky.
"Hey," he said, out of breath from the run.
"Hey," she said, surprised. She was leaning against a metal bar with a sign hanging from it that read RESTRICTED TERRITORY: DO NOT ENTER.
"Uhhh... You didn't come here for the sights, did you?" he asked, looking out on the restricted territory. It was mostly old rotting crates and piles of junk.
She laughed, "No. I was just wishing I had the nerve to go under this fence."
He raised his eyebrows, "Oh?" He had been under the fence many times. He and his friends had played Bam back there countless times. "Well I think I do," and with tha he ducked under the metal bar that served as a fence. When he was under he stood up and spread his arms out. "Hey, what do you know?"
She looked impressed, which fueled Max's bravado even more. "Come on," he said. "It's not going to kill you."
"You shouldn't joke about those things," she said, but she was smiling, and soon she ducked under the metal bar to join him.
They talked for a while, and Max kept scaling the crates and junk piles to keep Marian impressed. Then she said, "Come down from there or you're going to fall."
"Scared?" he asked teasingly, but he jumped down, and his feet landed hard on the asphalt.
"Maybe I am," she said, coming closer to him. His heartbeat sped up, and despite the cold and the snowflakes that were beginning to fall steadily, he felt uncomfortably warm.
But it was better than he had ever imagined. He was really going to ~!
"HEY! YOU! BACK THERE!" came a voice. They both involuntarily jerked back.
A white-clad Peacekeeper stormed around the corner. "This is restricted territory. Can't you stupid kids read?!" Before either of them could react, the Peacekeeper pulled out his gun and fired a few times, hitting Max in the shoulder.
He bit back a cry of pain, and clutched his shoulder tightly to stop the flow of blood.
The Peacekeeper muttered, "Stupid kids need to learn their lesson," and left.
Max noticed Marian motionless on the ground. He rushed over to her in alarm and saw that the ground dusted with snow was stained red.
"Marian!" he cried. "No, Marian..." It was too late. She was already gone.
His eyes filled with tears as he walked down the road, now covered with a fine layer of snow. He did not try to hold the tears back.
Maddy Chrome thought that Max Ferguson was not off his rocker, but rather a self obsessed indifferent jerk.
Two years ago he had come to her family's door with a bandaged arm and a cast, and teary eyes, and he said in a choked voice how he had gotten her twin sister killed and there was nothing he could have done to save her.
Uhhhh... how about not bringing her to restricted territory in the first place!
Then he had spent the next two years freaking out whenever he saw something die or something reminded him of something dying. Which is to say, all the time.
She remembered the terrible day clearly.
The doorbell rang urgently a couple of times.
"Maddy, can you go get that?" her mother asked.
Maddy headed to the door and opened it. There was a boy with long blonde hair with a bandaged arm and a cast. Blood was seeping through the bandage, and the boy had tear streaks down his face, indicating that he had been crying. She recognized this boy from school. His name was Max Ferguson. She wondered why he was at her house. She liked him, but so did her sister, Marian. She felt a pang of jealousy at the thought he might be here for Marian and not her.
But the name he said was not Marian but "Maddy?"
She grew excited. "Yeah?"
"I... I don't exactly know how to put it but M-Marian is dead."
"She... She what?" Maddy asked dumbfoundedly. In all her daydreams about Max appearing at her doorstep and asking to talk to her, none of them had ever turned out like this.
He went on to explain how she died and how there was no way he could have saved her. He talked about how he liked her, and would give anything to be in her place. Maddy had stopped listening long ago, thinking for the first time that Max was a selfish jerk.
After all, he was crying about the loss of his girl. But she was more than just his girl. She was Maddy's SISTER! She should be the one crying, but no, she forced herself to be strong, while Max just... collapsed, there was no better word for it.
It was a given that she definitely did NOT like him any more.
The reaping was a dismal day in District 8. No one from the District had won in twenty years. The reaping was pretty much a death sentence for everyone there.
Yet it went on, year after year after year.
"The girl tribute for this year is... Maddy Chrome!"
She had had plenty of practice at not showing emotions, especially when Marian died, (unlike Max who wore his heart on his sleeve). Thinking about Max, made her have to stifle a laugh at the thought of Max watching "his girl's" twin sister doing what he feared most.
Killing. If she lived that long...
"And the boy tribute will be... Max Ferguson!"
NO! Maddy almost shrieked. That was not how it was supposed to go! She was supposed to get partnered with some cute guy that she was going to kill later! Not that jerk who she used to like who was always going on about
Death, Max thought. He hadn't watched the Hunger Games since the year Marian was killed but before he had. He had seen every gory killing ten times over.
Death it really is everywhere.
Ellis Kryal had a pretty good life.
In his opinion, yeah, it was pretty great. He had a family, which was more than could be said for some people he knew, he had friends, again more than he could say of some.
Sure he wasn't the best at sports, and he wasn't on the A honor roll or anything.
And there was that whole thing with him and Genius Girl. Her name was really not Genius Girl, of course. It was a nickname someone had thought was clever, and well, it made like glue and... stuck.
Her name was actually Lenna Shorek. She was two grades below him in school but she was a lot smarter than any other teenager in District 9. She could multiply the square root of 577 by pi cubed in under twenty seconds and had a knack for memorization.
Of course, he had been the first one to know. It had happened when he was fourteen and she was twelve.
She had been just starting the seventh grade, and it was about November. She had been cutting classes left and right that year, but that day she had showed up around fifth hour and hung around the rest of the day. Since Ellis was not in her grade he did not know about how she had once tried to fit in, and the girl puzzled him.
A guy on his football team had told him she was actually a genius and she was trying to fit in but was desperately failing. Ellis had laughed it off but that day he knew the truth.
Ellis had dozed off during math (because really who wouldn't?) and had not gotten the assignment, so he had to go back to get it.
He had walked in on her staring at the white board, just staring blankly.
"I've got it!" she exclaimed.
"Ummmm..." She jumped at the realization she was not alone in the room. She saw him and blushed. "Please don't tell anyone!" she said in a panicked voice.
She motioned at the board. "I've figured it out." ELlis took a closer look at the board. It was the problem that the senior class had been working on all year. None of them had figured it out. Even the teacher could not think pf a solution.
"No one likes me, they either think I'm stupid or a nerd." she said, embarrassed.
"I don't think you're a nerd, and I definitely don't think you're stupid," Ellis said in awe. This "sevvie" had found the answer that the whole honors trigonometry class and the math teacher could not?
"But you hate me, just like everyone else," she said without missing a beat.
"I... nahhh," He replied. "What's to hate?"
She just shrugged, and then Ellis left the classroom, forgotten about any assignment.
That night he had told his parents at dinner about the genius girl he had met, and they gave each other a look. After dinner they went into their study and Ellis could hear them talking in low voices. In two weeks' time Lenna Shorek had been shipped to the Preston School in District 5, because of her geniusness she could never be in an ordinary school again. It had turned out that Mr and Mrs Shorek had been told by his parents about what he had seen.
So she had left District 9 and not a day went by that Ellis did not regret telling. He had wanted to know this mysterious modern Einstein but a mistake had taken her away forever.
Selena White was that girl. The one that everyone else talked about behind her back.
There was that quote, "Some people bring happiness wherever they go, but some people bring happiness whenever they leave."
In the eighth grade the class had had to vote on a quote that described everyone in the grade, and although Selena's was "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration," everyone, including her, knew she had been unanimously voted "The Quote" as people called it, but the teachers, who had been on an anti bullying kick at the time, had replaced it with a different one.
She was that girl who was a jerk to everyone, including her friends, and who was especially mean to her enemies, and who everyone held in popularity because they knew she would make their life miserable if they didn't.
That was also the reason she had been elected to student council three years in a row.
A lot of guys thought she was hot because of her popularity ranking and the fact that she held a lot of power in their grade.
She flirted with them and they fell for it, and all the other girls would shoot her angry glares when she did.
The truth was, it took being the meanest kid in the class to make her feel like she was anything. There was always an empty feeling somewhere where she thought happiness should be, and no matter how hard she tried she could not fill it.
The escort for District 9 was very unhappy that she still had not been promoted to a better district. 9 was a pretty lame place to be, at least when it came to the Games.
"Boy tribute is Ellis Kryal," she said dully. "Come on and die kid."
Ellis felt a starnge mixture of fear, disappointment, and excitement.
Fear, of course, because it WAS the Hunger Games, various people would be trying to kill him, disappointment because whatever plans he had had of going to District 5 after graduating, and possibly finding Lenna Shorek, had just flown out the window, and excited because wherever Lenna Shorek was, she would see him on TV in District 5. The Hunger Games was required viewing, after all, so she would see every minute of it.
"Girl tribute Selena White," said the escort.
The girl came up. Ellis knew her of course, even though she was two years younger (In Lenna Shorek's grade! he thought involuntarily). A lot of his friends liked her but he really could not see why.
Then he wondered if Lenna Shorek was watching him right now, and if she was, if she remembered that boy who had walked in on her in the math room.