Chapter 2

"Greetings," I can hear a smirk in Gigi's voice. "Welcome to the Reaping of the Second Hunger Games! Before we begin, allow me to present a video on why we are here."

The screens on both sides of the stage display a video explaining that the districts rose up against the Capitol and how "freedom comes at a price." I don't pay attention. I heard it one too many times.

After the video, Gigi takes the stage again. "Now, the moment we have all been waiting for. Ladies first!"

Gigi crosses over to the girls' bowl. She reaches in and takes out a paper. Gigi paces back to the microphone. "Gabby Williams!"

A small pale blond girl emerged from the twelve-year-old girl section. She took hesitant steps toward the stage. When she's about three-fourths of the way, a girl comes from the fifteen-year-old section.

"Gabby! No!" The girl reached for Gabby's hand. A group of peacekeepers groups around the girl, keeping her from reaching her hand. "I volunteer as tribute!" the girl yells out quickly.

Immediately, the peacekeepers let her go and she clings to Gabby. Gigi looks shocked, but she recovers quickly. "I'm sorry, hon. Could you repeat that for me?"

"I volunteer. A-as tribute." The girl's voice is shaky.

Gigi looks behind her at the mayor, who nods. Gigi directs her attention back to the girl. "Come up here."

The girl obeys. "What's your name?" Gigi asks.

"Tara Lawrence."

"District 8, welcome our first volunteer tribute. Tara Lawrence!"

Silence crowds against my ears. It's only the second year, but we have realized that volunteering is basically signing your own death warrant.

Gigi crossed over to the boys' bowl and took out a slip of paper bearing the name of the male tribute. In a blur, I hear the words "Davie Howerton."

I snap back to attention. Did she just…

"Davie Howerton?"

That couldn't be me! Not me!

I step forward to the stage. I meet Tara's green eyes. We shake hands.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Gigi begins. "I present to you the District 8 tributes of the 2nd Hunger Games!"

In a blur, I am led into the Justice building.