Reapings: Districts 12 and 1
PART I: CONDEMNED
District 12 Reapings
As soon as I see him my hand moves to the knife on my belt. I can't get angry with myself, not now, if I survive this I can berate myself later. My mind must be clear, the wolf could strike at any moment. It's amber eyes are trained on me, its teeth bared. In less than a second it's fangs are tearing at my skin, my arm is spewing blood. The wolf's blood joins mine as my blade slides into it's neck. I feel the jaws loosen their grip on my arm as the wolf falls, dead, to the ground.
I've survived, but my arm is badly mangled, if I don't get help soon I'll bleed to death. My arm doesn't feel broken, but there is no way of knowing for sure. The pain is so intense that I can't trust my own judgment. Why didn't I mind my surroundings? I can never forget that I'm not the only hunter in the woods. I should have spotted it long before I got that close, but no, I'm too much of an idiot to do what I've trained to do for years.
I'm feeling woozy by the time I reach the outskirts of town, and I don't even remember to check the fence. It's rarely electrified, but then wolves are rarely in the woods, and look how that one turned out. Luckily for me it isn't on, and the healer lives close to the edge of the forest. Soon after I knock, the door it opens. The look on the healer's face is one of pure terror. I mutter something unintelligible, and he lies me on the table.
When I wake up I'm not sure if I passed out because of the blood loss, or drugs I was given. Either way, it doesn't matter. The excruciating pain I felt in my arm has been replaced with an ache all over my body.
"Good you're awake."
"I wish I wasn't," I mumble back. This brings out a laugh from the healer, but it wasn't a joke. "Is it broken?" I ask as I look at my arm; its heavily bandaged.
"No, what got you?" he asks
"Wolf," I respond closing my eyes trying to shut out the pain, to no avail.
"Wolf, eh? Well then you're damn lucky. I'm surprised, there wasn't even a hairline fracture. You'll live...which means you'll need to be at the town square fo-"
"Yeah I know, how long was I out, how long till they start?"
"Little over an hour."
"Do my parents-"
"They know your fine."
"Good, I owe you doc, tomorrow I'll head back to the woods and skin the wolf. The pelt should fetch some money at the Hob. You get whatever I can sell the thing for."
"You can't very well go back to the woods tomorrow if you're reaped tonight can you?"
I can't tell if this last remark is a joke or a real concern, so I just shrug it off. "Come on, everyone I know took teressa this year, my chances are astronomical. How much bad luck can one guy have in a day?"
When I get to the town square I can tell I'm one of the last to arrive. I see my brothers together in the fifteen year old section. By looking at them you'd never be able to tell that they're twins, one is an entire head taller than the other. That doesn't stop them from being inseparable though. The two have stuck together their entire life. I'm sort of used to being the odd man out by now.
As I walk by them a terrible thought creeps into my brain. I start to wish that one of them will be reaped, so the other will know what it's like to be alone, just like I am. I instantly wish I hadn't though it, and I hate myself for it, but no matter how much I try to banish the thought from my mind, it sticks. I can't pretend I don't resent them. I wonder, would one volunteer for the other if he was reaped? I know I wouldn't volunteer for them. I wouldn't expect anyone to volunteer for me. I've learned to become self-reliant. I've been navigating the woods myself for years. I realized I'm staring them down now. I see them laughing and it reminds me of the countless inside jokes they share. This only serves to intensify my rage.
I'm so wrapped up in my anger I don't even notice anything is wrong until my friends start shaking me. They tell me I've been reaped. Then, as if on cue, the escort repeats my name, and this time I hear it. It sets in how truly alone I am about to become. I realize how pathetic I was to think I was on my own before. I may have killed a wolf this morning, but I'd be dead right now if it weren't for the healer. Once I'm in the arena, there will be no one to run to.
I will die alone.
I see the boy walk to the stage, and he looks pretty upset, which is makes sense. What's weird is that he didn't even notice his name being called the first time. As I get a better look at him I see he has something on his arm, bandages maybe, if they are bandages then he must be hurt pretty bad, cause they cover half his arm.
"Oh!" I exclaim, I recognize this boy! He trades with my grandpa all the time! Just like my grandpa, he goes in the woods. I don't know how he does it, I hate the woods. My grandpa tried to teach me to hunt, but I never liked it. One time, I went in by myself, I got lost and Grandpa had to come in and find me. I don't go in the woods anymore.
"And now, it's time to select our female tribute." I instantly look up to the stage. All I can think is that I would do anything in the world not to be reaped. I wish I hadn't taken so much teressa. We could have gotten by... maybe, it's just the four of us; me, my parents, and my grandpa. I hold my breath because its starting. The escort is reaching in the bowl, her hand grasping for a slip, she has it now, she takes it out and reads the name, "Amber Bane"
Its happening, it actually happeneing. As I begin to walk to the stage, I'm aware that I have begun to cry. Everyone is looking at me, I wish they would all stop it! By the time I get to the stage I'm a total mess. Kellen looks at me with a bit of sympathy as I make sort of a hiccup sound.
I think of all the horrible things that could await me in the arena, mutts, gamemaker traps, and worst of all, tributes. I look at Kellen, he has always seemed nice to me, and he is doing his best now to be nice, but he will try to kill me once we get in there. Why wouldn't he? Would I kill him? Even if I could, and I know I can't, would I be able to go through with it? I hate the Games! Every year I have to watch them, and it's always the worst time of the year. I always have nightmares the nights I watch the games. I don't want to think of what kind of dreams I'll have the next few weeks.
Why would they do this? What did I ever do to the Capitol? I have to pay for something that happened so long ago, something I had nothing to do with. Getting angry only makes my tears worse.
"Your tributes for District 12, Kellen Ross and Amber Bane" the escort cheerfully announces. Even though she is trying to get everyone excited, I can tell that the crowd is affected by my crying, and when she asks for a round of applause, I can tell its not the reaction she wanted.
District 1 Reapings
"That's enough!" My grip on the boy's throat tightens, I can feel the life beginning to drain out of the idiot. The color begins to drain out of his face, he has almost lost consciousness now. My crooked smile widens, he is so close to death. "Fathom, I said stop!" the trainer yells.
I finally release my grip on his neck, he pathetically falls to the floor, his face still blue, and he's gasping loudly. I laugh. "Alright, I think we know who will be our volunteer this year," the trainer says. I smirk, as if there ever was any doubt that I would be the one going in. I've been training for these games my entire life. I should have won last year, but someone else got to volunteer. That moron was the first careers to die, it was pitiful.
I decided that this year, I'd prove I was the strongest, and fight anyone else who would try to volunteer. I made sure to do it all official like, in case anyone tried to pull something. "I'm done here," I say as I leave the training room. I decide I may as well head to the town center, the reapings aren't for a few hours, but I don't have anything better to do.
When I arrive I'm the first one there, and my girlfriend shows up after about an hour. We make out for awhile, it passes the time until the reapings, and soon enough she is sent to her section. We don't even say goodbye when we are separated, our arrangement isn't exactly sentimental. Before I know it the escort is on the stage and a name is called out "Simon Knight."
"I volunteer!" I yell. I stride forward, and I don't have far to go to get to the stage, since I've been near the front for hours. I smile as turn to the crowd. It's really happening. I've been waiting for this moment as long as I can remember. I used to sit in front of the T.V. all day and watch replays of the old games.
The deaths were the most beautiful things in the world, it was so artistic. And the arenas, oh, what amazing deathtraps! Seeing all those foolish tributes die in such amazing and beautiful ways, well nothing was quite like it. I can remember often trying to imitate the felling of the Games; playing sports, beating up kids, threatening teachers. Once, I couldn't have been older than five, I killed a dog. All that was fun, but this is the real thing. This is the most exciting thing anyone ever gets to do. I will get to kill actual children. I don't think I've ever been giddy, but this must be what it feels like.
I feel like an apprentice, who has watched artists paint masterpieces for his entire life, and I have finally been given paint, a brush, and best of all, a canvas for all of Panem to see. The entire nation will get to watch my beautiful display of violence. I can hardly wait, I begin to contemplate the possibilities. I think an ax would be the most fun, I've always been good with an ax.
I'm suddenly snapped back to reality when the escort speaks again. "And our female tribute is...Acely Vadis!" I hear a chorus of gasps to my left in the sixteen year old section. I see a girl with black hair down to her waist stride forward. She looks confident, perhaps I could enlist her as an ally, for awhile at least. I'll eventually have to kill her, if she's strong it will probably be in her sleep, but before that we'll work together in what the weaker districts call "The career pack."
The pack will form before the games even start, well get the other careers from Districts 2 and 4, and maybe a couple others, if there are any other worthwhile tributes out there. Once that happens the fun will start, we will take out a good chunk at the bloodbath, the very word sends chills of joy down my spine. The sheer amount of death that will surround me is incredible. After that we will pick off the tributes that decided to hide, one by one. Killing those measly little tributes will be the highlight of my games. After that's done, I'll just take out my allies, the careers. It might be tough, but it sure will be satisfying. Oh, and here is one of those future victims of mine now, Acely has made it to the stage, and is shaking my hand.
As I shake the boy's hand he gives me sort of a crazy look. I'm not really sure what to think of this guy, he seems a bit...unhinged. He looks like some sort of criminal, with this crazy smirk and a broken nose. I can feel that his fingers are calloused, probably because he usually has some kind of weapon in hand.
I'm honestly a bit shocked that I was reaped, I mean I've trained for the games a bit, but still it's kind of a shock. Now that I think about it though, I suppose it makes sense. Being sixteen, I have more of my name in that ball than the younger tributes. My family is easily one of the richest in the district, but in a district where everyone is so rich that no one needs to sign up for teressa, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference.
This is somewhat annoying, if I was in a poorer district, then my family's riches would practically guarantee that I would not be reaped. I should not have to deal with this, my family has money! We should be allowed to buy ourselves out of the games if we so choose! But now isn't time for that kind of thinking, I'm a tribute, and it's time to honor my family. I'm sure I can get this brute, Fathom, on my good side, he doesn't seem to be too gifted in terms of brains. In fact I'll probably be able to get the entire career pack to like me, and a lot of sponsors as well.
Now's as good as a time to start as any, I shoot him a smile as we walk to the Justice Building and he gives me back that same smirk. I have him in the palm of my hand.
Before I know it I'm sitting in the room of the Justice Building designated for family members to say goodbye to their tributes. I've been here before, but I was the one seeing tributes off, this time the situation is reversed. My older brother, Raid had two friends go into the arena years ago. I was seven when his friend Emerald went in, then when I was ten Shine went in. Neither made it out.
The first one to visit me is my mom. Things are a bit awkward, as this morning we got in a huge fight after I spilled some juice. She apologizes, and begins to tear up, but I know that it's only because she thinks I could die.
I could die. It hits me for the first time. I mean, of course I knew that people die in the Hunger Games, but it really takes this to make it sink in.
My dad is next, and true to from, he doesn't say much. He has always been the more passive parent, this morning when my mother and I were fighting, he disappeared, as he so often does. I wish I, like him, I could just run away. It's a huge honor to go to the games, but I've seen how that turns out, twice. Of course, I'm a lot smarter than my brother's friends. They were like Fathom, relying on their strength, to win the games. And I remember Shine had a nice streak, he hesitated to kill some tributes in his games, and got an arrow in his skull for it. To stay alive, I will have to be ruthless and clever.
After this is Raid, he walks in and messes up my hair. I hate it when he does that. We joke around for a bit and neither of us dares to bring up Emerald or Shine. After they died Raid became something of a party animal, and despite his demeanor I can tell how worried about me he is. I wonder what would happen to him if I died in the arena too.
Last is my other brother, Hero, he may be ten years older than me, but he is still the closest person age-wise to me in the family.
"Be careful in there Ace" he says.
"You know I will" I respond.
"Don't trust anyone" he instructs.
"Anyone, no matter what, okay!"
"Okay, jeeze!" I say a little mad, but I can't stay angry at him as he grabs me and wraps me up in a tight embrace. Neither of us says anything after that until the peacekeepers come to take him away.