Frozen: The 21st Hunger Games

Os and Dutch

"Os?" Dutch knocks quietly on my door and I look over. It's the next Saturday morning, after I got the letter and decided to volunteer. I haven't exactly told anyone about it yet.

"Hey." Our conversations have been much more formal and a lot less casual ever since he won the Games.

"Can I talk to you?" he asks.

I start to feel excited. Dutch hasn't wanted to talk to me in forever.

He sits on the foot of my bed and flips the dark hair out of his eyes. I sit and watch him.

We sit in silence for a minute or so before he shifts over to face me, and starts the conversation.

"Os… I heard you got a letter," he says quietly.

"I did." The truth comes spewing out before I can formulate a lie. I lean back on my pillow, where the letter is still hidden.

"Wh…What do you think you're going to do?"

I consider this response for a second. "I don't know."

"Remember that you're only 17. Just like I was, when I won my Games. You still have time to think about it."

"They said that if I don't volunteer this year, odds are that I won't get the opportunity next year."

He takes a deep breath with his teeth clenched. "It's not worth it, Os. You'll never believe me when I say it, but it's not. I didn't believe Dad, and he was right."

"Dad's always right, though."

Dutch tries a smile but gets back on topic. "Os… You understand that I'm going to be a mentor next year, don't you?"

"No you're not. You get a break, for the delusional one!"

He shakes his head. "President Augustus changed the schedule. Turns out that they were faking the delusion."

I blink. "Why would they do something like that?"

"To stick together. The act is dead, now. Being a Victor is such an unstable life that you can never trust the Capitol unless you're doing what they say."

My spirits plummet in that moment. "Oh…"

"But, I know District 1 boys, especially Krietzers. If you want it, there's nothing I can say to stop you."

I nod, even though that's what I've been saying for years.

"You see, Os," he says, leaning back so he's sitting next to me on the bed, "The three of us have something very precious that we are all being controlled by. You."

I blink at him. This must be some sort of mistake or joke. "Me? I haven't been in the Games."

"That's right. If they killed me off, the whole Capitol would have a fit. Same with Dad. Same with Nick, too. But you're the one person that all three of us care about that they can threaten all of us with. This is serious business."

"But if I win the Games, then none of us will have to worry. They'll have nobody to threaten anymore."

"They'll find someone. They'll find a way. The Captiol is good at ruining lives, Os. And I don't want them to have the chance to ruin yours."

I nod sadly. A long silence follows.

"D…Does that mean that I'm the cause of your suffering, Dutch? I mean, if they didn't have me to threaten you with, how would they control you?"

"They…" he chews on his lip nervously. "Probably with Nick's parents at Two."

"Nick barely cares about his parents, and you and Dad don't. That means it is me."

"Os…."

"Don't worry, it's okay. I'm fine with it."

"You're lying. I'm your brother, I know these things. What's really going through your head?"

"That only gives me more the reason to volunteer," I mutter quietly. "I'm sorry."

He nods, avoiding my eyes and staring at the floor. "Os…" he says.

"I…I still have to think about it. Dutch, I promise I'll think about it. That I'll try to stay out of trouble. I still don't know what I'm gonna do."

"Please, think. Think about it." He kisses the top of my head, something he hasn't done since I was 12 and he was 13, before my first reaping. He tries to smile and I smile back.

We hear Dad call suddenly from downstairs, "Dutch! Come down here, this is important!"

He gets up and I frown. He holds a hand down to me and says, "Come on, Os."

I take it and the two of us head downstairs together, to the living room. Dad is sitting on the couch and he pats the spots next to him. The two of us sit down next to him.

"What's the word?" Dutch asks.

"The Head Gamemaker's on, talking about next year's Arena. They're gonna give everyone a hint about it. This is important to know as a mentor."

Dutch nods and I listen, as well. I don't think Dutch told Dad about my letter, and if he did then Dad seems to be alright with it.

The Capitol man flickers on the screen and Dad pauses it when the camera shows his face. "Here he is. The longest-running Head Gamemaker Panem's ever seen. This year will be his seventh in the position."

"Seven!?" Dutch says, "Wow…."

"That's amazing," I say quietly. Dad smiles and nods, "Sure is. Ithica Myers lasted four years, coming in second place. Then there were some three-year guys, some twos, and a couple ones."

"Amazing. What happens to them?" Dutch asks.

"What does the Capitol do to people that've made them upset?" he asks, answering that question.

Dutch swallows hard and nods, while Dad studies the man on the TV. I look at him, too. He has dark red hair and freckles that dot his cheeks and nose. His left eye is ice blue, and his left is moss green. "The man's a genius. A real genius, like he could crush the smartest person in District 3. And his Arenas are the craftiest of them all, always having a catch. The legend is that one of his eyes has a contact in it, one is natural. But nobody's ever been able to tell which is which."

"Wow," Dutch says.

"He doesn't appear on TV often. And when he does, well, you'll see, he doesn't talk a lot."

"I think that worked in his favor," I point out.

"That's probably very true, Os," Dad says.

He wears a long beige trench-coat, even though the interview is taking place indoors. He has his hands in his pockets nervously. Dad presses play and the interview begins.

The first thing we notice is that his words are very quiet and hard to understand. Not only does he mumble but he has such a strong accent that we can't hear one word he's saying. They have to subtitle some of it.

He talks about last year's Games, the topic Dutch comes into the conversation and they talk about him for a while before getting to the Arena of this year. The hint of the year is that the Arena will be spine-chilling. My first thought is a winter environment, but Dad tells us it's a lot more complicated than that. Then they sign off, announcing his name one more time: "Panem, your Head Gamemaker, Edward O'Callaghan!" Then Dad shuts off the TV, and he and Dutch start thinking of possible Arena scenarios.

They come up with so many options I feel dumb for thinking of it so shallowly, and I watch them make the list.

"How about I make you both some dinner?" he asks, getting up and going to the kitchen.

"NO!" we shout at the same time. Our father can't cook and we don't want him to burn down the house trying.

"Fine. How about I go microwave some of Nick's leftovers?"

We can nod to this. Nick is a great cook, and he always makes us lots of food for those days he has to go back to District 2. Dutch and I have both been too afraid to try cooking, considering we are Krietzers, it's in our blood to suck at cooking.

When he leaves, Dutch looks over at me and whispers, "Dad doesn't know about your letter, Os. Don't let him find out."

Then he walks to the kitchen to help, and I get up and follow.

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