Hey, Catching Fireflies here, with a new Hunger Games tribute OC story! (If you just happened to click on this and like OCs, check out A Deadly Spark and A Deadly Fire.) I couldn't help but write this for some reason. See, Spark Reviz of A Deadly Spark is now *spoiler alert* not in the Games anymore, and I miss writing about the Games. :)
And to explain Amity's name... Amity is more than just a faction name in Divergent (awesome book!), for all you people who think that. It means 'peace'. But I actually named her because... okay, long explaining time! See, she's from District Six, the transportation district. Which I envision as futuristic Detroit. And since I'm a huge Eminem fan, there's this song by Eminem called Amityville, which is (mostly) about Detroit. So... there you have Amity!
Tell me if you like it, despite the long-ass author's note! ;)
Rest In Peace
It's sunset, but half of the district is just waking up. Including me. I yawn, sitting up in my rickety cot, looking around. At least no one else in the community home is awake yet. The manager and his wife are lucky enough to actually sleep at night. See, I time my waking up meticulously. Somewhere between eight o'clock and nine o'clock; earlier in the winter and later in the summer. Then I can manage to get dressed in my work uniform quickly and leave the community home as soon as the day workers are getting back.
But tomorrow's the reaping. My very last reaping. I grin as I roll out of bed, grabbing my clothes, tiptoeing into across the room. No one wakes up. I gaze at the dark room, with all the sleeping teenagers. We're almost old enough to have our own homes. To be out of the reaping. But I'm finally free. Tomorrow night, I can fill out a form to get a place of my own. Well, I'll have it right away to live in, but that means spending most of my money and going to work for months with no pay. And as I look at the other orphans, I wonder how people who sleep so peacefully can beat me bruised and laugh about it during the day.
I slip out into the hallway and go into the bathrooms, ducking into the first stall I see. The light of the one yellow light bulb makes me squint. After all, I almost never see the sun, since I get my sleep during the day and work at night. I peel off my threadbare nightgown and put on my factory worker's uniform: heavy leather boots that stop just below my knees, tight jeans, a simple brown shirt, and a heavy jacket that feels like it weighs a thousand pounds. The jacket and boots are to prevent injuries, in case you get hit by a flying object or a piece of shrapnel off something you're hammering.
Only, the jacket isn't made of bulletproof material, like Peacekeeper uniforms. Because if you misbehave, then you get shot by the factory officials. And I've seen this happen. It's not an empty threat.
I unlock the stall door, flakes of rust coming off on my callused fingers, and go to the cracked mirror over the sinks. I wash, drinking out of my cupped hands. Then I braid back my straight, red hair. I've seen what can happen if your hair isn't pulled back in the factory. That woman's head getting crushed like an eggshell when her hair got caught in the metal shredder is a sight that frequently occupies the lead spot in my nightmares.
I take a deep breath, and then I actually look at my reflection. It's kind of strange, but I don't like looking at my face in the mirror. But there I am. The deep brown eyes. The pale skin, sprayed with freckles. The red braid. The thin body, made stronger from factory work. No, I'm definitely not pretty. But who gives a fuck about pretty? I'm spending my whole life working and sleeping.
Then somebody comes into the bathroom. I try to duck into a stall, but no, they've already got me by my braid. When we pass under the light, me struggling, punching and kicking, I see Hemlock's face. I feel like I'm going to puke now. Hemlock's parents committed joint suicide when they figured out that their precious little son raped and assaulted schoolgirls. That's how he got into the home. My feet slip on the wet tiles, but I try to get to the door.
"Let me go," I hiss, kicking. I have no idea where I'm kicking, but he groans and draws back away from me. I grin, although I'm wanting to burn my boot now.
"Oh, so Peace over here can talk," he says with a laugh. He grabs me by the shoulders and throws me to the floor. My hands go up to protect my head, so at least I don't hit the floor too hard. I'm very used to this. He kneels down and punches me over and over, everywhere he can get to. I lay there limp for a second. I can't be late to work. Otherwise I'm going to have to stay late, which means being late to the reaping, which means wearing my grease-stained, battered factory uniform to the reaping. And I don't really have much other clothes, but I'd rather not wearing my uniform to Panem's biggest holiday.
"Get the fuck away from me," I growl. My voice is a bit lower and deep than most eighteen-year-old girls', and it shows most when I'm angry. I stagger to my feet, running into a sink. The last thing that I hear as I run out of the bathroom, my nightgown under my arm and my boots squeaking on the floor, is Hemlock laughing like a maniac.
I stop back in the bedroom to put my nightgown back, and then I'm off. There's a lot of night workers trudging off to the factories, and I manage to weave in between them. It's a habit of mine, I guess. Running to strengthen myself. My stomach's growling by the time I get through the factory doors. We get one meal at the factory and one meal at the community home per twenty-four hours.
I pass through inspection -the nightly uniform check and strip search, which I've gotten used to but still hate- with ease. I sign my name in the attendance book, then go off to meet my work crew. Me and five other workers. They mutter greetings to me, sleepy. At least I don't feel the pressure of having to reply to them, since the work leader walks in our section of the factory, starting to take attendance. Really, they should just use the goddamn attendance book, then, I think bitterly.
My name's last, so I tune out until I hear the man call, "Vanes, Amity?"
"Here," I mutter, scuffing the heel of my boot on the concrete floor.
"All right, you're all here," the leader says, checking off my name. "So. Tonight, you'll be working on hammering metal into shape for car doors." I groan inwardly as I'm handed a hammer. I hate this. I mean, I've gotten great at it -in fact, I knocked someone into next week with one of these heavy-duty hammers- but I don't like working. More than just 'don't like'.
We get into line by the slow-moving conveyor belt. There's a model showing how to hammer the metal into shape, but I no longer need it. When a piece of metal comes to me, I start hammering it like hell itself. It's therapeutic for me, I guess. I just pretend it's someone I hate. Hemlock, I think, pounding the metal with my hammer, smoothing the dents and dulling the edges. But somehow, that doesn't really release my anger. The community home, I try, hammering. No, that still doesn't work for me. I'm still not hammering as hard as I can.
Then a thought comes to me. It's the day before the reaping, isn't it? The reaping is tomorrow. I feel a rush of hate. At the jolly Peacekeepers, walking around the square and whistling happy tunes. At the day workers, who get a day off when I don't and brag about it. So this is what I'm thinking while I pound the metal hard as fuck until it's smooth.
The Capitol. I'm killing the Capitol. I'm hammering them down.
It goes on and on like this for a while, with a short meal break to eat our cold oatmeal, the car doors moving down the conveyor belt, where more workers will saw them into even better shape and work on the other components of them. I yawn. I'm so tired by now, but see, the reaping isn't a holiday for the night workers. The day workers get the day off, but the night workers like me only lose a day of sleeping. I'm dead on my feet by the time that the work leader bellows, "You may leave!" As we scurry to the door as fast as we can to sign out and go home, he adds, "Happy Hunger Games!"
I fist my hands in my jacket pockets, resisting the urge to punch something. But then I hear my name. "Vanes! One moment here, and then you can leave."
Somehow, the first thought that comes to my mind is, I'm fired. He read my mind and figured out that I was pretending to hammer the Capitol. Then I almost laugh, because it's so stupid. "Yessir," I mumble. I've never been one for words... at all. I look up, but I can't meet his eyes.
"Congratulations," he says. I don't get it for a second. He explains. "Since you're going to get your own place and become a legal adult, I've decided that you're long overdue for a raise." I look up, a smile creeping onto my face. A raise? That's more than I hoped for. "Another fifty cents an hour. You've been working extra hard lately, and I'm quite grateful." He waves his hand. "Now, run along, Vanes. Oh, and... happy Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in your favor."
"Thanks, sir," I mutter, nodding and slipping out the door. I scribble my name on the sign-out sheet and run out the door, grinning. The streets are mostly empty, since the night workers have mostly gotten home, and the day workers have the day off for the reaping. I run back to the community home, my feet flying. When I'm running or hammering, I actually feel free. Even though running is to be on time, and hammering is part of work for our transportation district.
I run into the bedroom. The day workers are sleeping late, and the night workers are in the bathrooms, making themselves look a little civilized for the reaping. I go to my cot by the wall and crawl under the bed, looking for some clothes. I'm ready to just fall asleep, but I can't. Luckily, I've got good vision in the dimness or darkness, since I sleep during the day and work at night, and there's not much electricity in District Six anyway. I pull out some clothes and leave the room quickly, going into the restrooms and taking the first open stall that I see to avoid the others.
In a minute or so, I emerge from the stall. I look in the mirror again. Yes, I've still got the same sloppy red braid in, but the rest of my clothes are different. I'm wearing dark jeans -I inherited them from an older community home orphan that left some clothes behind when they moved out. I think they might have been a boy's jeans, so they're loose and have to be held up with an old strip of leather that I use for a belt. For a shirt, I'm wearing a tight, dark brown blouse that buttons up my chest, showing off the little curves that I have, since I'm very thin. I'm still wearing my factory boots. But for some reason, I feel like I changed so much since the last time I looked in the mirror.
I manage to avoid the other people through the bathroom and the hallway, but after I get back to my cot and stuff my factory clothes underneath, I see that there are at least six others. All my age. All male. I feel a little sweaty now. I just stare back at them, not saying anything. Letting them have the first move. Then they come forward like a pack of rabid wolves. Holding my down on the cot. Punching me. Kicking me off the cot onto the floor. I struggle, but there are others holding me down. I'm battered, bruised, bleeding. There's blood leaking out of my face, a long cut under my left eye. And as I cup my hand underneath it, breathing hard as they laugh at me, I have one thought. I can't get blood on my reaping clothes. I can't be like this on my last reaping.
I struggle to my feet. "Stay away from me," I say. I can't think of anything else to say. Besides, they're laughing. I know that they're going to pay. I'm going to make them pay when tomorrow, I'll have my own place and a raise. And they'll... never mind. I get out of the room as soon as possible, going to the bathroom and washing the blood off of my face. Unfortunately it keeps bleeding, even harder now, and it hurts like hell when the water hits it. I wince. I don't have any bandages. Oh, well. I guess I'm going to the reaping looking beat and bloody. And it's true. I'm covered in bruises, and I'm limping, since my left foot hurts.
I leave as quickly as I can, hobbling out the door and running to the square in a sort of lopsided fashion. There aren't many reaping-age citizens, but almost all of the adults are here. I wait in the eighteen-year-old's section, watching it fill up. The others from the community home start arriving, laughing when they see me. Well, tomorrow I'll never have to worry about them again, I think. More money and a place of my own. I can't wait.
As soon as the clock in the square chimes the hour, the mayor steps up and begins reading the Treaty of Treason. I tune it out. It's the most boring speech ever written, in my opinion. I try not to yawn. Blah blah blah, Panem this, the districts that, the Capitol this, the Dark Days that. Then he reads off the list of past victors. It's pretty short.
Then the mayor introduces the chaperone, Maria Leafpine. I always laugh at her stupid name. She's wearing a bright purple dress with yellow polka dots, her hair is a bright green wig, and her skin is dyed pale blue. It's almost sickening to look at. I press a hand to my face, wiping the blood off on my jeans. My face is still smeared with blood, and more is oozing out of the cut.
"Happy Hunger Games!" she squeals happily into the microphone, her eyes bugging in glee. There's some hushed laughter among the younger kids. "And may the odds be ever in your favor!" They had fucking better be in my favor, or else I lose the house, the pay raise, and my life all in one. "It's such an... honor..." Her eyes flick around the desolate streets, the wrecked buildings, the factories, and the smog. "... to be here in your... wonderful district."
"Let's start with our... lovely young women!" she says, sounded strained when she says 'lovely', just like 'wonderful' and 'honor'. My fists clench. I may not like my district, but it's all I've ever known. And I'm not going to let some Capitol bitch insult it. She totters over to the girl's reaping ball and reaches her hand in, grinning at the crowd.
Everyone's taking a deep breath. I'm hoping to everything I know that I won't get pulled on my last year. Come on, you'll be fine, I think to myself. You're not going to get picked. Yeah, I'd better not. I won't. There are thousands of other slips in there that don't have my name on them. What are the odds?
Maria Leafpine goes back to the microphone, squinting at the paper. Clearing her throat daintily, she reads out the name.
I'm frozen for a second. What the fuck? Holy shit... it's me. I feel like running. But I can't run. There are people laughing at me. I can't let them see me like this. So I walk up to the stage, trying to hide my limp, and trying to forget my weak knees. All of Panem can see my hand-me-down clothes, bleeding face, and bruises. All of them. But I just look out on the crowd. Wait, why is it wavering a little? No, those can't be tears in my eyes.
"And here we have our female tribute... Amity Vanes!" trills that motherfucking little bitch straight out of the Capitol. I feel a combination of overwhelming sadness and fury building inside of me. Or maybe that's just bile sneaking up my throat. Or blood dripping down my face.
And as the whole district claps -because it's me that's going to die, not them- I realize something.
Amity. Peace. It hits me like a slap in the face. I'm named for peace, and to survive the Games, I have to become a killing machine.