Chapter 5: Individual Scoring
After the week finished, the training was over. And that meant closer to the Opening Day of the games. Closer to entering an arena with forty-seven other tributes all with the same thing on their minds: come out as the sole survivor.
Now that the training was over, it was time for the individual scoring.
As being the last District, they all were the last to go.
Dylan was currently in the gymnasium where the Gamemakers and other Capitol members were watching him as he performed whatever he was doing to impress the them so as to get an admirable score, which in turn would heighten his chances of sponsors that would aid him in the Arena.
Soon it would be his turn.
He was bouncing his knee repeatedly, and couldn't help it.
If he got a low score, sponsorship chances grew slim, Cassie had told them. The score would bump the odds of survival up in the Tribute Statistic Tables. Capitol citizens sponsored those who had the better odds. Even though Cassie always emphasized that a lot of it didn't matter, the scores, the interview, the parade, that it all was worthless in the arena, Haymitch could tell that Cassie was worried about the individual scoring.
Suddenly a hand flew and grasped his knee very tightly, almost painfully. He stopped moving and looked at Maysilee who was next to him. It seemed she'd moved over from the other side of the room to stop him.
"Please stop that, its driving me crazy," Maysilee interrupted his thoughts, her fingers digging deep.
Maggie was against the wall opposite them, silent as she performed some weird stretches, even cracking her knuckles, which echoed throughout the room.
"You're already crazy though," Haymitch said smiling. "More-so than the rest of us…"
"Yes, we've established that," Maysilee said smiling back, "but if you keep doing that…" she squeezed his leg, "I might act on it again. And you got hurt last time, remember?"
He laughed. The slap had stung, but it didn't hurt him. He then grinned.
"Try me again," he said, reaching down and moving her hand back to her own lap instead of his. He lingered, keeping her hand in his.
She grabbed onto his wrist with her other hand, to disengage their fingers, but it didn't happen. She looked menacing, and her mouth opened when the doors to the gymnasium swung open.
Dylan walked through, smiling.
"Have fun," was all he said as he walked down the hall, a Peacekeeper in step behind him.
Haymitch sighed and stood up, still holding onto Maysilee's hand.
"Show them what you got," Maysilee said, nodding at him. He could've sworn she squeezed his wrist.
He nodded back and walked away, lingering slightly before he had to let go of her.
Once he entered the doors, he cracked his neck from side to side and walked to the middle of the big room. Various stations had been set up for the tributes to choose from. Some survivalist and some combat.
He looked up to the Gamemakers, none of them paying attention. They were eating and seemed heavily drunk.
"Haymitch Abernathy. District 12," he called out. One of the men turned, and nodded.
"Go on, boy," he said, the cup in his hand shaking, threatening to spill over his red suit. He was probably wasted by now, having to go through more than thirty other tributes.
Haymitch nodded, and looked over to the nearby wall that held every kind of weapon imaginable. In the corner there were tools that were found at the Survivalist stations in the training center. He kept his eyes on the weapons, and decided on the spears.
He had trained more with Leo throughout the week, as well as honing his knife skills and weight training and sparring with Dylan. Cassie had called it right - there were whispers as the Tributes of District 12 trained and worked together.
He went forward and picked a slightly longer spear, testing the weight and balance in his hand as he stepped towards the platform and focused on his target. He took a breath, getting into the stance Leo had taught him so well before he threw it.
It hit one of the inner rings at a good spot, but wasn't on target.
He heard a few laughs and looked back at the Gamemakers. They hadn't even paid attention, focusing more on the food; but he noticed a few were still watching. Those must've been the ones that laughed.
He threw another spear, this time more on target, but when he looked back, nobody was watching him. He sighed and threw the rest of the spears on the stand, hitting the various targets on the various mannequins, all inside the targets this time.
He stepped back after he threw the last one which hit right in the center of the chest on the mannequin furthest away.
He looked over to be dismissed, but they were all too distracted.
"May I continue?" Haymitch asked out of nowhere. Nobody made a notion to his existence.
Scowling, he wandered over to the knife table, and took a few in hand.
If they were too drunk to care, so Haymitch wouldn't waste the time for more practice.
This time with the manikins, he got creative. One knife landed on a mannequins face, between the eyes. Another he threw at the heart. The third one landed in the throat of the farthest one away. He kept throwing, emptying the table while the displayed knives ended in various yet targeted parts of the mannequins: wrists, elbows, ankles, he even went a little risque and got each mannequin in the crotch. He knew he wouldn't fight that dirty in the arena, but he had fun with it.
He had the last knife available in hand, aiming at a knee when he heard a shout. Haymitch threw the knife and turned to the stage, not bothering to see if he landed on target. They all had surprised or angry looks on their faces. The Gamemaker was only staring, an indescribable look on his face.
"Uhm, you can go now. Thank you," the Gamemaker said. The others around him were staring wide eyed at the mannequins, as well as the large blazing fire.
Haymitch nodded, turned around - and left.
He opened the door and Maysilee stood up quickly.
"What happened?" she asked, raising an eyebrow at his calm demeanor.
"Sorry about the mannequins."
That night, Haymitch was the first on the sofa.
He chose the desert scene, his favorite. The landscape was so foreign; it comforted him from being in another foreign place.
There were some weird looking trees that he had never seen before, but other than that, sand and rock stretched out into the distance and never ended. He expected a critter to pass by; in the other scenes he had tried there was always an animal or person that would come across the wall.
Then he heard a screech, something familiar, and he saw a big bird fly into the scene, circle a few times, then flap its wings and tuck them in to dive off the other side.
He smiled, remembering as he heard that screech whenever he went as far as the border fence to search for food.
It had scared him the first time he heard it – he had thought it was a Capitol transporter of some sort and he ran until he realized nobody was chasing him. He had gone back and listened for it again. He heard it a few more times and realized it was a bird when he saw something circling in the far distance, riding the air with grace.
"What was that?" Maysilee whispered right near him. He jumped slightly and shook his head at himself in disappointment.
Maysilee was creepily silent. She was usually there first on the sofa at night, but the first time he'd been there before her, she had crept up on him.
And she had just done it again.
He turned to meet her smiling gaze.
"Don't know the name, but I've heard that cry once outside the border, I know its a big bird of some sort."
"The border?" she asked her eyes wide with curiosity.
"Yeah, sometimes I had to go as far as the fence to try to catch something to eat."
She nodded, frowned, but then shook her head.
"What the hell did you do today? The mannequins had holes in off target places, were you trying to be stupid?" she said quickly.
He raised an eyebrow, but wasn't surprised at how right she was.
He did feel stupid in that room, giving his best and having none of the Gamemakers' attention, the people who literally had his life in their hands.
"I threw all the spears and they didn't even notice that I was finished. So I started throwing knives at the same mannequins using my own targets, and they finally noticed and I was dismissed."
"Well they obviously were impressed, they gave you a damn nine," she mumbled.
"Hey, an eight is no different! Half of the Careers got eights. You have the same score as them; you're going to be noticed," he said.
"Not when three other tributes have scores higher than you, one of them from the same District."
Haymitch sighed, and turned back to the desert scene.
He could only feel that he got lucky with that score. That if someone viewing his time during Scoring was sober enough to stop him after the last spear was thrown, he'd have gotten a much lower score.
"What do you care about the scores, or your odds? You know in the Arena it doesn't mean a thing," he said.
He remembered the one year a twelve year old with platinum blonde hair had a 1-70 odds in the games, with no sponsors, and yet she survived up to the last three. Then her skills in hand to hand combat and quick learning with a machete lead to her victory, the youngest from District 4.
"Sponsors care, Haymitch. They're our lifeline."
"That's only half of the games."
"A big half. Medicine, food, we'll need help in the arena, against forty-seven others..."
He stayed silent, then spoke.
"I can't… I can't depend on that," he said finally.
He turned back to face her. Her hair was in a loose bun, and she was wearing the given pajamas that he was wearing as well, grey sweatpants and black tank tops.
"Why not?" she asked.
He raised an eyebrow.
"Because the interviews are tomorrow and I can only really come off as… I dunno-"
"An asshole?" she asked.
He laughed, and shrugged.
"Yeah, I guess you're right. I'll come off as a jerk that won't get any sponsors."
"You never know. People might find it charming," Maysilee shrugged.
"Charming?" he asked inquiringly, grinning. She nodded, now silent.
"Well, you were the one that got Rose, after all," she said in a whisper, turning her head away.
He shook his head, confused on the subject. He'd left that behind, like he did everything else, except for Finn and his dad.
"She's too stupid for her own good. You know I broke it off after watching the Quarter Quell video? Just in case," he said. He then scoffed. "Probably damned myself by doing that."
Maysilee turned to look at him, raising an eyebrow, and then tilted her head. She then shook it, but didn't say anything.
He sighed. There wasn't that much to say. He knew he didn't damn himself; he was just an unlucky bastard who had to enter too many tessera to keep himself and his family alive.
"I'm going to go in, maybe more sleep will put me in a good mood," he said, standing up.
"Doubt it," Maysilee said, mirroring his thoughts as he walked to his room.
"Goodnight, May," he said, not turning back to see her reaction of the nickname. Though the fact that she didn't come barging after him, intent to hurt him, spoke volumes.