The Falling Of The Sky
I definitely shouldn't be writing this fic what with all the 545435 other fics I have going atm AND my busy life, buuuut I just finished reading the first Hunger Games book and it stuck into my brain so much that I couldn't resist doing this.
I'm putting this as Blam just for a setion for it to go in but am not sure where it will take me, maybe friendship, maybe more or maybe enemies...
Enjoy! And please let me know what you think!
P.S. I know that is the lamest title ever if anyone else has any better ideas hit me up
Chapter 1 - The Falling Of The Sky
When I awoke the sky was dark outside. The wind blew strong against the house, rattling the windows and pounding at the doors, trying to get in. It was as if the weather knew. Hauling myself out of bed I rubbed my face with my hands, cursing how sore my eyes felt. I hadn't had much sleep last night. I suppose nobody did the day before the reaping.
Walking into the kitchen I saw mother already preparing breakfast. It was funny how no matter what was going on, whatever day it was or whatever was about to happen that could affect the course of our whole lives, she never seemed to waver from her set tasks. That could be because she had three hungry mouths to feed, but I liked to think it was determination.
"Good morning." I said, even though neither the weather, nor the day ahead reflected this. Mother smiled back at me, a somewhat forced smile, but one still etched with love, and looked back at the crackling stove.
"Will you check on Stevie and Stacey please?" She asked. I nodded, immediately walking through the kitchen and into the other bedroom. Our house was small, modest compared to most. A year or so ago we'd been forced to move and it had been a struggle to get used to. Mother had insisted that I get my own bedroom with me being nearly 18 and 'the man of the house' (an argument I had fought against considerably but never won) so she shared with my younger sister Stacey and even younger brother Stevie. Stevie was jumping about on the double bed as I entered, his 7 year old brain still too naïve to know anything about the significance of today. I ran forward and scooped him up, twirling him around in a circle so he screamed and wriggled against me, but with no intention of actually escaping.
"Jumping on the bed again?" I boomed in my mock angry voice. "You shall surely be punished for this!"
"Never!" Stevie replied, closing his fingers together so they were like blades and then pretending to chop at my arms.
"Argh! A weapon! I am defenceless against robot boy!" Pretending to be hurt by his cuts I slowly dropped to my knees, placing him back down on the bed and then falling to the floor, lying there, motionless.
"Hooray!" Stevie cried. "I win again!" Suddenly a loud sound made my eyes flash open. Stacey had pushed some books that were lying on the edge of her single bed onto the floor with a large crash. She shot to her feet and looked at me with seething rage.
"Do you not know what day it is?" She screamed with me. I bit my lip, immediately realising the seriousness of my error. "People are going to DIE and you are playing GAMES about it?"
"Sssh!" I hissed, pointing to Stevie, who had noticed our sister shouting but wasn't quite sure what it was about. "Keep it down."
"Stevie might be too stupid to know, but you're not! You should be ashamed!" As she stalked past me into the kitchen and slammed the door I looked back at my little brother, whose lip had begun to tremble.
"Did Stacey call me stupid?" He asked, his voice wavering and tears forming in his eyes.
"Of course she didn't." I replied, scooping him up again but this time cradling him in my arms. "This is a bad day for her, for everyone."
We ate breakfast in silence. Stacey glowered at me the whole time – I supposed I deserved it. It probably hadn't been the best idea to play robot killers. But somebody had to lighten the situation, if not for Stevie's sake, but for ours too. Glancing over at mother I realised she hadn't really touched her food. For a long time she had had two children eligible for the reaping. The first time your name went in the bowl was on your 12th birthday – Stacey was 15 so had 10 slips now. I was nearly 18 so had 21 – with an extra 7 for Tesserae. The pain I saw on her face as each tribute was chosen was nothing I had ever experienced, as was the relief when she saw another two children go up instead of us. After next year, and until Stevie was eligible, that worry would thankfully be halved.
"Now you must wear your best clothes for the ceremony." She said after a while. The word 'reaping' was never mentioned at home, as well as the phrase 'The Hunger Games'.
"What? So we look nice and pretty for the Capitol?" Stacey snapped. Suddenly mother banged her fork on the table loudly. The movement surprised all of us, even Stacey, who was barely spooked by anything.
"We dress nicely for the ceremony so as to uphold the Evans name." Silence descended upon the room. The calm but stern tone Mother had spoken in left no room for a reply.
Twenty minutes later and breakfast had been cleared away. I retired to my bedroom and opened up the wardrobe, perusing the few outfits that hung within it. I normally wore the same few shirts and pants to school, but I had one suit for special occasions. Taking it off its hanger and wiping off the dust, I held it to my body and hoped it would still fit.
When I walked into the other bedroom again mother smiled.
"My goodness." She said, looking up from the pins she had been arranging in Stacey's dress. "Doesn't that suit fit you well now." Rising to her feet she walked over, adjusting the collar and staring at me with sad eyes.
"You look more and more like your father every day." She said, suddenly sounding emotional. "If only he were here to see it." I smiled, trying to hold back my own emotions, and then watched her slowly return to my sister, asking her to turn around and then continuing like nothing had happened.
The streets were bustling with people. Since nobody could afford cars everybody walked to the ceremony. It wasn't that far, but when you had young children and the thought of what would be there when you arrived, it could take a long time. We departed with an hour to go and walked along the road silently. Stacey immediately left us to join her friends in the Capitol Freedom movement, linking arms and walking proudly up front. Once of them handed her an armband and she snapped it defiantly onto her bicep. I wished she wouldn't flaunt her rebellion so openly – it risked her getting into trouble, or even worse, killed.
Ignoring my sister's stupid actions I focused on keeping my brother and mother in high spirits. As we walked I discussed what we would have for dinner that night – that I would cook it and it would be the best meal anyone had ever tasted.
"Even better than your roast lamb." I teased mother. A smile crept across her face. Of course I was lying – nothing could ever compare to her roast lamb. But we could never afford food like that anymore, so we would never fully know.
Seeing the crowds thicken and the noise grow I realised we were near the square now – when it came fully into view I was shocked once again by the amount of people that lived in district 12. With such an introverted lifestyle of school and chores, it sometimes made you forget that there were other families around – whole streets of people with their own lives and dreams. Ironically events like the reaping brought us all together, made us realise that we all existed, turned us into a unit.
As we reached the entrance gates I realised this was the point where I would leave mother and Stevie. I saw her trying to hold back as I picked my brother up and gave him a big hug.
"Why can't you stand with us Sam?" He asked, seeming confused and upset.
"All the big boys have to stand over here Stevie." I replied. Placing him back down on the ground and pressing a kiss to his forehead I turned to mother and tried to stop my own tears.
"Don't worry." I whispered as she wrapped her arms around me, pressing her fingers into my skin and breathing in my scent. "We've made it through so far. And after today only one more year left for me."
"Only one more year…" The words ghosted off mother's tongue, hovered in the air and then flew away with the wind. I held her gaze for a few seconds before finally breaking away and giving Stevie one final wave.
"See you later." I said cheerily. As he waved back I turned around and walked towards the boys pen.
It was rather barbaric the way we were identified and hustled into the huge holding pens. Though I suppose what we were gathered here for was pretty barbaric too. Struggling to fight through the crowds I searched for a face I recognised and then spied Mike Chang, a boy in my history class, from across the area. Calling out his name, I pushed through and then saw him acknowledge me with a smile.
"Hey." He said, no specific emotion in his voice.
"Nice weather for today isn't it?" I replied, pointing up at the swirling grey sky. Mike tilted his head upwards and then laughed.
"I think they knew." He answered. I'd never really accepted God into my life – the thought that someone could advocate such a cruel and unforgiving sport of death never processing in my mind – but Mike believed in several. I wasn't sure if it was a family thing, or if he used it just to get by, but I wasn't going to crush his dreams.
"Have you seen any nags anywhere?" I asked after a few seconds. Sometimes twisted members of the public made bets on who would be chosen, over who had the best or worst chance. Mike shook his head.
"No. But maybe somebody who actually wants to be entered will be picked this year." Signalling to a boy about fifty metres from us I scoffed. Brody Weston. The biggest jerk in district 12 and also the stupidest. The past month or so he'd been bragging about how he wanted to be picked for the games – that he'd begun to train and could beat anybody in a fight. As the Mayor's son he had the resources, and he'd certainly bulked up, but everyone thought he was an idiot.
"I hope he does, just to shut him up." I replied. Mike went to say something but suddenly the speakers crackled and everybody fell silent.
"Hello everybody." There was a pregnant pause, as if the announcer expected someone to reply, like we were still at school. When no sound came they continued. "Welcome to the 74th Annual Hunger Games!" Again the pause. Nobody applauded. The fact that this 'sport' had been going on for 74 years was nothing to celebrate. As the rules and regulations that we'd all heard a hundred times were explained I searched the girls pen for any sign of Stacey. I had no doubt she'd be near the front, wanting to shout something hurtful when the time came – I only hoped she had the sense to stay away from the guards. I became so caught up in my searching and thoughts that suddenly the crowd was silent again as a lady from the Capitol came up onto the stage. Effie, her name was. She seemed like an alien, pink hair, blue lipstick. I sometimes wondered why people dreamed of visiting the Capitol because to me it seemed like a scary place, filled with demonic people desperately clinging onto their youth. Effie tottered up to the front of the stage, her stupidly high heels making it a lengthy process, and then stood between two large round bowls.
"Happy Hunger Games!" She exclaimed. "And may the odds be ever in your favour!" Several boys around me groaned. We had all grown to hate that phrase, especially as there was nothing to be happy about where the Hunger Games were concerned. Although I did hope the odds were in my favour. And Stacey's.
"Ladies first!" Dipping her hand into the first glass bowl everyone held their breath. I suddenly felt my heart pounding in my chest, my fists clenched together, praying and praying that it wasn't Stacey…
"Tina Cohen-Chang." Immediately a scream rang out. A portion of the girls crowd was suddenly disturbed – people began to fall over and more shouts rang out. When the guards had to intervene and started pushing through the masses I realised Tina was trying to escape. Her hands flailed wildly as she bashed through the mob, the endless scream wailing from her mouth as she struggled to stay upright. Eventually one of the guards caught up with her and fastened his arm around her waist – she immediately began kicking and thrashing, injuring some surrounding people in the process. The guard was joined by two friends and slowly they dragged her towards the stage. Tina fought every step of the way, the same cry of
"NO!" spiralling from her mouth with every second. As she was finally hoisted onto the stage her face was displayed on the huge screens either side – the expression of pure, unadulterated fear. Suddenly I realised the significance of this girl. Turning to my left I saw Mike's face as white as a sheet. Tina Cohen-Chang was his girlfriend. His whole body had frozen, motionless, almost as dead as his lover was now sure to be. My heart dropped, wanting to offer some condolence but knowing it would have no effect. I would have felt the same if it were Stacey.
She was safe. My eyes now scanned the group for her. Had she said anything? The area around me was now deathly silent thanks to Mike, so I could get a good indication of where the noise was coming from. Tina was still screaming but apart from that only hushed whispers could be heard everywhere else.
"Thank you Tina." Effie said, trying desperately to ignore the pandemonium happening right beside her. "Now, would anybody like to offer up as tribute for this girl?" Suddenly the whole place went silent again. It was extremely rare for anyone to offer themselves up for the games – not when taking part normally meant certain death. I looked across at Mike again and saw him still staring straight forward. It was not allowed for boys to nominate themselves for girls – he was powerless. Tina had no sisters, or anyone willing to risk her life for her, so she was left to scream and scream and scream on the stage. I suddenly found myself wondering what Stevie would make of all of this – if he would be hiding under mother's coat snivelling and shaking. Thankfully somebody finally had the sense to put something under Tina's nose that knocked her out and the square was now silent again, ready for the boys choice.
The boys. Suddenly it dawned on me that we still had a name to go. Someone else whose life was now to be ruined, and the life of their family. How could the Capitol condone this? The destruction of innocent people – all for one mistake they made 74 years ago? It was undeniably cruel – even more proof that the people who designed it could not be human.
"Ok…" Effie said, trying to shake off the stigma of Tina's meltdown. It would have been a good show for the cameras, but surely set her out as a weak opponent. "Now for the boys…" Dipping her hand into the boys bowl I held my breath again – for some reason not praying for it not to be me, but just for the moment to be over – another year to pass so we could begin to rebuild and fight on until the next one. Effie drew out the slip and I closed my eyes, beginning to prepare how I would cook the dinner I had planned, what seasoning I would use on it and how long it would have to stand…
Instantly the world froze. For a second I wondered if I had just died on the spot. Everything seemed to stop – like I had been transformed straight into a ghost. Everyone was looking through me, their eyes wide with shock, until I realised they weren't looking through me. They were looking at me.
"Sam Evans?" Effie said my name again, her voice sounding a little nervous. I hadn't caused the stir Tina had so it hadn't been as easy to identify me. When more people turned to look in my direction however it became obvious. I didn't bother to look at Mike – I figured he had had enough shock for one day to have to cope with looking at me, so just stared straight forward again, my eyes focused on the screen. It was my name. I was the boy tribute.
Suddenly a small commotion arose. The guards, having found my location, were beginning to push through the group towards me – obviously fearing another freak out. Immediately I raised my hands in the air, acting surprisingly calm considering the tirade of emotions that were currently cascading through my brain.
"It's ok, it's ok – I'm coming!" I said. Several people around me gasped. It was unusual for a tribute to be so calm, almost sarcastic. I couldn't believe it myself. Stepping forward I noticed people moving out of the way, creating a path to the stage. My feet felt like lead but I forced them forward, trying to stay calm but beginning to lose it. As I passed the girls pen I suddenly found myself locking eyes with Stacey. All this time spent looking for her and I found her at the worst time. Her eyes seemed dead like Mike's – there was no rebellion in then now.
I realised I still had my hands in the air when I got to the stage so lowered them slowly. I climbed the wooden steps – higher than they looked from a distance, and then turned to face the crowd when I was in position. My goodness there were a lot of people. Out of all the people, all the names entered time and time again, I had been chosen.
"Mr Evans." Effie said excitedly, holding out her hand. I made no effort to move, not even looking in her direction, so she quickly took hold of my hand and made it look like we were greeting each other. "Congratulations!" A small sound came from my lips. I wasn't sure if it was a snort, or me finally breathing again, but Effie paused and then ignored it.
"Thank you Sam. Now, would anybody like to offer up as tribute for this boy?" Suddenly my brain whirred again. The offering. Immediately my eyes tracked to Mike. Maybe he would offer to be with Tina – to protect her. It was a slim chance, and nothing came of it. Then abruptly I remembered the other person, the boy Mike and I had been talking about before. Several other people looked in the same direction, towards the talk of the town. Brody Weston – the boy who wanted to take part in the Hunger Games – who had bragged and bragged until the sun came down. Suddenly silent. He had no intention of volunteering. He was just as much a coward as everyone else.
Turning my eyes away in disgust I looked towards the sad, slumped body of Tina. It seemed a horrific thing to think, but at this point she didn't seem like much competition. I was now in a game – a game where fighting for survival was second nature. I was going to become a killer.
"Well that's settled then! Ladies and Gentleman of District 12, I present to you our two tributes for the 74th Hunger Games – Tina Cohen-Chang and Sam Evans!"