"If you'll just have a seat over there young man," The reporter gestures to a chair in front of the camera. I nod and sit in the same chair that all the interviews have been done in today, I'm the last one. I see Proxy's youngest brother, Zapp join the rest of his family. They are good, hardworking people, but it's been difficult for them to get by without Proxy's additional income. Both Zapp and Proxy's other brother Dexter are too young to start working. Her mom has had to pick up a lot of Proxy's old shifts at the testing factory, which means I've been seeing a bit of her. She looks like she has aged years in just a couple weeks. I think her dad has tried to put in some extra time with his job at the assembly plant too.
I've always gotten along with them, but Proxy being reaped seems to have brought us even closer together. I'm almost a surrogate son to them now, even though they refuse to let me help them with money. They know that money is tight around my house as well. I think they like having somebody so rebellious around, just like Proxy.
"Okay," the cameraman begins, "You ready?" I nod. "Ok let's do this in three, two…" He points at me and a red light goes on.
"So Pierce," the interviewer, now sitting across from me addresses me, "How long have you known Proxy?"
"Well, we've been working together for about five years now."
"Interesting, so would you two say you are close?"
"Yes, she is practically me sister."
"So tell us the most interesting story you can about her." I go into some tale about how she almost got both of us electrocuted once in the factory and the rest of the interview continues in the same manner. I keep waiting for the inevitable, when they ask me about her rebellious streak, and to be honest I'm not sure how I'll respond.
But the moment never comes. As they pack up all the camera equipment I'm left wondering why they would not ask about the most controversial thing about Proxy. Suddenly it dawns on me. They don't want to draw any attention at all to what Proxy is saying. They want to completely ignore it, like it isn't even happening. Now that I think about it they cut away from her basically every chance they get at the Games.
I wonder, are they scared? Has Proxy and all the others' rebellious attitudes actually stirred up something that frightens the Capitol?
"What were you feeling when your name was pulled out of that bowl?"
I pause, I really hate thinking back to that day. It sucked. "I was thinking I was about to die."
"And then your sister volunteered, I'm sure that must have made you happy."
I look at this guy like he is some kind of idiot. "No, not really, I didn't want to see my sister die either. I love my sister, but…"
"I suppose it had to happen, for our family to make it. When my dad died my mom and Jade had a bit of a falling out. They lost faith in each other I guess. Jade always used to tell me I was the only thing holding the family together."
"Is that true?
I hate all this guy's questions, first they take my sister, now they come into my home demanding to know all of these personal things. "I dunno, maybe, I guess so."
"Well I'm sure you must be proud of your sister for making it so far, she even escaped the Careers after Allan's betrayal!"
"Yeah, I'm proud." I know that one in eight odds are a lot better than one in twenty-four, but they still aren't good odds, especially when a ruthless girl from 4 tracing her down.
"I'm just glad we got put here in 6, I feel bad for the guys doing the interviews in the Districts with all the rioting," My friend Hector tells me. Setting up this camera equipment has a lot of downtime and discussing current events with Hector is a good way to pass the time. It's a tough job, but I'm still young, and if I wanna work my way up I'll have to start at the bottom. One day I'll be Caesar Flickerman's successor.
"Well I think the worst of it's over, even 5 is quieting down, I heard they had to use the gas over there," I respond casually.
"Yeah, but now 10 is rioting, things aren't looking good."
"10, really? I had no idea."
"Yeah, I don't envy the guy interviewing Felix's sister."
"Who?" I ask bewildered.
"Felix, the kid from 10."
"That's Finch." Sometimes Hector can be a tad slow.
"Whatever, I just don't want to be in 10, okay."
"Well it's not just 10, other districts are getting antsy."
"Like where?" Hector wonders.
"Well, you heard about 7 right?"
"Yeah, but that's over by now."
"True," I say checking the camera lens, "But people say that 9 is still pretty bad, oh and the governor of 11 might resign, 'cause… well you know."
"Yeah, yeah. At least we aren't seeing any of this stuff back home."
"I wouldn't be so sure…"
"Dude, what the hell are you talking about?"
"Alright," I say in a hushed voice, "But if I tell you this it stays between us."
"Of course," Hector says as he leans in to hear what I have to say.
"You know my dad's friend, Latinus?"
"Well last night his kids went missing."
"No way, that cute redhead?"
"Yeah, and her brother. My dad thinks they ran away cause they didn't approve of the Capitol."
"That's crazy, where would they go? They can't run to the districts."
"No, it gets crazier."
"My dad thinks they want to escape to District 13."
"13 got blown up years ago." Hector gives me a skeptical look.
"I know, but I guess there is this conspiracy that 13 is still surviving."
"That's why they call it a conspiracy, Hector."
"Even if that was true, how long would it take to get there?"
"Well…" I stop to think. "They would have to cross all of Panem, and take a pretty indirect route to avoid the Districts. Plus they would need to spend a lot of time hunting and stuff like that…maybe a couple years?"
"Wow man, that-"
"HEY!" Our boss yells at us from across the room. "This isn't social hour, back to work, Marius' mother will be here in less than seven munities."
"Sorry boss," I say quickly getting back to what I was supposed to be doing.
"It's really an honor to meet you, the way you dominated your games was amazing, no one else stood a chance." I roll my eyes at the cameraman. Ever since winning the 64th games I have been mobbed by these stupid Capitol people. Just like the rest of my family, well that is except for my failure of a sister Dagress.
"Are we going to start anytime soon?" I ask agitated.
"Yeah…of course I'll just…" The buffoon goes over to his camera and we begin.
"So Glorinna, your family is already filled with victors, you guys have been winning for years, is that right?"
"Yep, there are a ton of us. That's what we do, win."
"That you do, has anyone in your family actually ever gone into the games and not come out a victor."
"Of course this year things are different."
What the hell is this pencil pusher implying? "What are you talking about?" I ask coldly.
"Well there is another victorious family involved in the games this year, isn't that right? By Storm's own admission Chace is a real contender, and both of his parents were tributes."
"Well, I know Chace, lived next to him for years, I like the kid. In almost any other year he would be a shoe in for victor. But this is my sister we are talking about."
"If they are both such strong contenders why go the same year? Each had one more year of eligibility."
"You really don't understand a rivalry do you?" The reporter gives me back a blank stare. "Storm's entire life the only worthwhile opponent was Chace. Victory without him would be hollow, the rest of their lives they would have wondered who was better. It had to be like this."
"I see…well, what do you think of Chace's new allies, and his closeness with some…unorthodox tributes?"
"All part of the plan, Chace is smart." I say assumingly, but really I know the boy has a soft spot. Still I know he can't back down, he will give my sister everything he has.
The parade of Storm's realities almost never seems to end. I don't really know why I've stuck around so long, since I was one of the first interviews filmed. I guess I don't really have anywhere better to be. The live feed of the games are always on in the background, but it seems that they picked a good day to film the interviews because nothing really has been going on in the arena. Every once in a while they will cut to Aaralyn or Jade, but they are still pretty far apart and won't meet anytime soon.
I take a seat on a box as one of Storm's aunts, a huge muscular woman with an unforgettable face, does her interview. I sit in silence, as I have for the past few hours, so when someone sits down next to me it takes me a bit by surprise.
"Hey," she says politely as she sits down.
"Hello," I reply with a smile. I know I recognize this girl, but I can't quite place her.
"I'm Storm's sister, Dagress," she says extending a hand.
"Nice to formally meet you," I say, shaking her hand. "So you…."
"I'm a bit of the black sheep in my family," Dagress says, and I can tell it is almost a programed response.
"That's not such a bad thing."
"Thanks, you're Chace's friend right?"
"He is a good kid, I'm glad he is trying to make a difference."
I smile, "I really hope he can."
"So Leff, many of your brothers and sisters voiced their concern about the dangers that exist in the games and Aaralyn's safety. Do you share these concerns?"
"Of course, look so many have already died, I don't want to lose my sister."
"So are you worried she doesn't have what it takes to go the distance in the games?"
"Not at all," I say with confidence.
"I'm afraid I don't understand then, if you think she can win, what are you worried about?"
I have to consider for a moment the best way to phrase my answer. Tensions in the district are high. 4 may be considered a career district, but we have always been the least traditional one. We aren't the Capitol's lapdogs like 1 and 2. This isn't the first year that we haven't participated in the career alliance. So I don't want to say anything that might be viewed as inciting revolution. The last thing I want is the Capitol to take out my words on Aaralyn or someone else in my family.
"Aaralyn has what it takes, but there are so many out there that do, look what happened to Evander, he was strong, smart and kind, and he still died."
Maybe bringing up Evander was a mistake; he did after all die with a message of rebellion.
"So what you're saying is you need a bit of luck?"
"Yeah, something like that."
"So Layla, you had no idea that you had a brother until reaping day, is that right?"
"Yes," I answer the reporter, "My father never told me about his other family."
"Yes, and it would seem that Finch never knew about you either."
"How do you feel about all of this?"
"Well…" I awkwardly begin, "It has been a lot to take in. I was pretty mad at my dad when I found out he abandoned his old family to be with my mom."
"Must be a lot of conflicting emotions?"
"Yeah, there certainly are…"
"So, on another note, what are your thoughts on your brother?"
"Well, I don't know him any better than the rest of Panem does. That being said, I think he is a really good guy, he's selfless."
"He does seem to care a lot about others he-" He is cut off by a brick crashing through the window.
"DOWN WITH THE CAPITOL!"
"Cut the feed cut the feed!" The producer yells. The entire room is in a panic. "Get everyone out of here!" Chaos erupts, everyone is running in different directions and protestors storm in. Peacekeepers rush to them and fighting breaks out.
I run to the back and I see some protestors running at me. "Stop, leave her anole, that's Finch's sister," one yells. A second later my savior takes a baton to the head from a peacekeeper. I rush to the backdoor and escape into an ally.
I lean against a wall and attempt to catch my breath. What just happened?
"Thank you," The reporter says shaking my hand.
"Yeah, my pleasure." The past few weeks have been…difficult. My best friend and my girlfriend, or rather ex-girlfriend, went off to the Hunger Games. Seeing the two of them together was hard to watch. My feelings for Zee never went away. I always knew that Dale loved her too, and I knew that he was better for her than me. Since Zee and I broke up I feared the two of them would end up together, he deserved her. After all I could never give my life for her.
He did give his life for her, and I lost my best friend. I don't know what would happen if I lost Azeika too. Every time I turn on the television I am paralyzed with fear, that I'll lose her too. But even if she could survive the horrors of the arena things would never be the same. I don't think we could ever be together, not after what happened to Dale.
As I'm leaving a peacekeeper steps over to me and I have a terrible thought. He is here to punish me. They must know that two nights ago I was at that protest. I escaped when I saw the gas being released, but now it seems that my fate is sealed anyway. They needed me to record the interview, but now that it's over I can be disposed of.
"Do you know Blaine River?" The peacekeeper asks.
"What?" I ask stupidly.
"Blaine River, you met him didn't you?"
"Yes," I respond confused, "I met him on the reaping day."
"Here, take this to him," He says handing me a letter. "Don't read it," he adds with a suspicious look.
"I….yeah okay," I say grabbing the letter.
The last two days have been the worst of my life. The only sound in the house is my mom's crying. We don't even know if Aly is alive. No one has even left the house, except for my dad going to work. No one has visits us either, I guess everyone is afraid that if they do they might be taken away by the peacekeepers too. That's why it's so surprising when I hear a knock at the door.
"Hello?" my sister greets whoever is at the door.
"Hello, I have something for Blaine River, this is where he lives isn't it?"
"What do you have?"
"It's a letter."
"I'm Dale," I finally speak up.
"May I come in?" I see the visitor now, it's the boy I met before talking to Dale, it's his friend, the one he punched. I think his name is Alex.
"Yeah," I respond.
"Here," he says handing me the letter.
"What does it say?"
"I don't know, but I got it from a peacekeeper."
My hands shake as I open the letter; I'm shocked to see that it's in brother's handwriting. This is what it reads.
Blaine I know that you and everyone else have been worried about me, and I'm sorry. I want you all to know that I am alright, but I won't be able to see you again for a long time. I've met some people who can help me make a difference. Just know that I am safe and I love you.
"So…" Alex begins. "What does it say?"
"My brother is alright, he really is a hero." I hug Alex as tears run down my face. "Thank you."