Reapings: Districts 8 and 2
District 8 Reapings
The only thing that the reaping day has every meant to me is a day off of work. I hear other Districts still work half days, but I guess people here just don't see the point in having the factory open and close in such a short time span.
I'm at the place that I have spent most of my spare time in the past few years, my best friend Allie's back yard. The small gym in her backyard, to be more specific. About five feet from the chair where I'm relaxing in hangs the punching bag that has been the outlet for my rage my whole life. It still gets use every once in awhile, but my anger has subsided over the years. There was a time when I would spend hours waling on it, after my father's death, but I've come to peace with it.
My father didn't die in some kind of horrible accident, he wasn't murdered by the peacekeepers. He had cancer. My father wasn't robbed form me, he had his time. After my dad died the rest of my family got closer together, but I somehow drifted further from them. I think my mother would have completely lost it if it weren't for my little sister Kirra. The shop the two of them opened has been what has kept out family going. My job making peacekeeper uniforms at the factory brings in some money, but not nearly enough, and my little brother Jake is too young to get a job. My mom and I may not be on the best terms, but at least I've got Allie, she's been there for me through the good times and the bad.
"You ready to head to the reapings?" she asks me.
"Yeah, lets get this over with." I respond. I know we should be worried about getting reaped, but I feel that the odds are in our favor. Neither of us has ever needed to take tessarrae, and it's a big district. I don't even know anyone who has been reaped. My life isn't some tragedy, it's pretty normal. I don't year for another rebellion, or want to escape to 13, which is rumored to have secretly survived. I just want to keep living my life. I do hate the Capitol more than anything, but what can one ordinary girl do? If I can protect the ones I care about I'll be fine.
I don't really take in a lot of the mayor's speech, its the same as every year. The six past victors are named, and the four living ones wave to the crowd. The escort stands up, makes some joke, and reaches into the girl's bowl. I can see all of the nervous faces around me, but I know it won't be my name. I'm right, it's my sister's.
How can this have happened? Her name is only in that bowl three times, out of thousands, maybe even tens of thousands. It just doesn't make any sense. It's not the same as my father dying, he was an old man, he lived a full life, saw his children grown up. Kirra had her entire life ahead of her, and its the Capitol, not fate, that has stolen that. I've always thought that Jake was the one who needed protecting, not Kirra. She is the foundation of our family. She is the one who saved my mother, and who brings in the money for us to survive. What will become of my mother and brother when she goes into the games? I know what I have to do.
"I volunteer!" I yell. Kirra has already made it halfway to the stage, and she turns to me in shock.
"NO!" she shouts back, and I see her bolt for the stage.
"Hold on, little girl" the escort starts, "I'm afraid you can't stop a volunteer," she turns my way, "Come on up!"
My sister gets to me before I reach the stage. "Take it back!"
"Its too late, besides you know you can keep Mom and Jake from starving, I can't hold the family together." Kirra bites her lip, not happy, but knowing I'm right.
"Oh, and keep an eye on Allie, I think you guys might need each other now."
Allan Fur English
After an enormous delay the girl finally gets to the stage. She volunteered for her sister, that's fine, good for her, very heroic, but there is no need to keep the rest of us waiting. The escort trots over to the boy bowl, and I prepare myself for the worst.
"Our male tribute is... Allan Fur English!" Actually nothing could have prepared me for that. So the Capitol has managed to ruin my life yet again. I don't have some older sibling who will throw his life away to save me. The only way I'll be coming back alive is to outsmart every other tribute. I'm not happy about this, killing these people I've never met, being a pawn for the Capitol, but I have no other options. Against the Capitol, there can be no victor.
My family learned this the hard way. I haven't always lived here in 8, a long time ago I had a spoiled life, sitting in the lap of luxury, District 1. Then my idiot of a mother had to make a statement against the Capitol and they took care of her pretty quick. So, my father and I were exiled to this place. Honestly it may have been good for me. I was a bit of a spoiled brat in those days, and it taught me of the cruelty that humans can bestow on one another.
I've spent years exploring this notion, manipulate people. I pride myself in my ability to give someone an idea and make them think it was their own. The games will be no different. I have to gain the trust of a few tributes who can protect me.
The first step should be to recruit Jade. Shouldn't be too hard since she is from my district, we'll be spending a few days together before we reach the Capitol. She's actually perfect for her part, I can see that she's strong, but not incredibly muscular so I don't have to worry about the careers trying to lure her to their side. She is also someone that others will want to ally with, so bringing in more to the alliance should not be a problem.
Once enough of the other tributes have been taken out, I'll deal with the members of my alliance. With the amount I plan to recruit I doubt I couldn't take them all out at once, even in their sleep. No, I'll have to get them to turn on each other, or maybe find a way to get some other tributes to finish them. I'll cross that bridge once I come to it.
I reach the stage and give Jade a smile, letting her know I'm on her side. The escort instructs us to wave to the audience, and the moment I turn I see her. My best friend Zim is in the front row. She is the one person who I can trust because, quite frankly she is nothing like me. She trusts most people, she's optimistic, upbeat and constantly cheerful. After my ordeal with the Capitol, I though every human in the world, save my father, was filth. Then I met Zim. She is the reason I have managed to keep what few morals I have left.
Now I may have to abandon the one moral that I wholeheartedly believe in. That it is wrong to take human life. But the fact of the matter is that I must either abandon that belief , or die myself. And I'm a survivor.
District 2 Reapings
"Point left! One, zero!"
I lower my foil and catch my breath.
"Why don't you just give up now?" Storm asks me. "You know that I'm going to win this bout just like I'm going to win the games."
"Wrong on both counts," I reply "You aren't the only one from a winning family, you know."
"Alright enough talk you two," the instructor tells us, "Back to starting positions." We get back to out spots and the instructor signals us to begin. I haven't been a point down before, not in any training session, but this is different. I'm not fencing someone for my spot as a tribute, I'm fencing an actual tribute.
"Point right! One all" I've made contact, and we are all even again. "Back to starting positions, and lets hurry it up, the reaping are starting soon." I've always thought that its odd we decide our tributes in 2 using such an archaic form of combat. Fencing has rules, its honorable. The games aren't anything like that, they are total chaos. Going is honorable, winning is honorable, but what happens in there is anything but.
"Point left! Two, one." Agh, focus Chase! One more point and she's won the match. That won't happen, the next two points are mine. This is what I've been training for my entire life. Winning the tournament to qualify was practically a given, none of the boys had anything on me. The same could be said about Storm on the girls side, perhaps she was even more dominate.
As I strike her again, Storm curses under her breath. "Point right! Two all." It all comes down to this next point. Which one of us will enter the games with bragging rights. Our entire lives we have known that we would be going to the games together, and neither has ever been able to get the advantage over the other. To say that we know each other well would be an understatement. Her house in the victor's village is right next to mine, it's been that way since the day I was born. Seventeen years have been leading up to this moment. We both take our places back at starting positions, eyes locked, neither of us says a word.
"Sorry guys, were gonna have to call it a tie, reapings are about to start." For a moment after the trainer says this you could hear a pin drop. Then all hell breaks loose.
"Are you insane?"
"You can't do this!"
"Restart the bout or I'll tear your ears off!"
The two of us begin spewing profanities at the trainer and I think that Storm might be serious about reliving him of his ears.
"ENOUGH!" The trainer shouts. "This bout is pointless, you're both already are in, besides you will be allies, the tributes from 1 and 4 will be looking up to you. Now get to the reapings."
The two of us oblige but we aren't happy about it. We aren't angry at each other but after being robbed of a final bout I, and I'm sure she feels the same way, we want to finish it on our own terms. Since that could result in us loosing our spots we take different routes to the town square. On my way I run into the one person who may know me better than Storm. It's my best friend, Leellya. She might even be the only real friend I have. I'm very popular at school, but calling those people my friends would be a lie. Some are fans, some are people like Storm who I hang out with because I almost feel like it's required. Leellya isn't like any of the rest though.
"Hey," I say as she approaches.
"Hey," she says back, looking right at me, but I can't meet her gaze.
"Nice day out," I say turning my face upward.
"You know you don't have to do this." This is what I was afraid of.
"Yes I do."
"Why? Because of your mother? Because, she can't force you to do this."
"It doesn't matter," It is getting very hard to avoid finding her eyes, "I'll go, and either I'll bring honor to my district and my family, or I'll die honorably."
"What kind of choice is that, you either end up dead or become some kind of monster, a killer for the capitol!" I say nothing back to this, instead I pretend to be very interested in a nearby crow. "Don't lie to me like you lie to everyone else, I know you resent the Capitol for what they turned your mother into, and I know you don't want to end up like that."
I shut my eyes tight, "Shut up, please, just..." I mumble, but I can't even finish a sentence. I'm so close to breaking now, to letting someone else take my place, so Storm could kill him and win the games.
"You know I'm right, you can fool your mother, you can fool Storm, all of Panem, one day you might even fool me, but have you really convinced yourself that this is what you want?"
I force myself to open my eyes now, I make sure that I don't show any tears, I turn to her for the first time and say, "Yes."
"Fine" she says. We walk the rest of the way to the reapings in silence. We both know she was right, about everything. But she missed one thing. I don't want to end up like my tyrannical mother, but Leellya didn't mention the thing that might have actually made me stay behind.
My mother didn't change after she got back from the games, she changed in the arena. The instant the career pack was broken, my mother took the life of her district partner. She killed him without mercy or hesitation. The same man who, on the night before they went into the games together, she gave her virginity to. My father.
I've finally calmed down after being robbed of my victory over Chase, the only victory that would have meant anything to me. Every other person I have fought was just a stepping stone to get to my real opponent. But then, I suppose the fencing match didn't really count. What counts will be in there, in the arena. The other twenty-two tributes don't matter, they may as well be ants. The only one who has any hope of defeating me is Chase. He is the one person outside of my family I respect. I will do absolutely everything in my power to destroy him.
The reapings are about to get underway and the mayor has his annual speech, telling about the dark days, the Capitol, and District 2 being an important ally afterwards, earning us certain privileges. It is an honor to be in such a patriotic District, but what really moves me is hearing the list of 2's winners. The Shields family has done well in the games. My grandfather won one of the early ones. My father followed in his footsteps, as did my aunt who married another victor and had victor children of their own. Towards the end of the list are two of my sisters. Soon I will be sitting up there with all my relatives.
But there is one name on that list that makes me uneasy. Tara Castellan, and she is staring right at me. She has lived surrounded by my family for years, and she knows the same thing I do. I am the only thing standing in the way of her son's victory. I just give her a knowing grin back, and she turns to my uncle saying who knows what.
The mayor has finished his speech, and our escort, Narcissus Bell, strolls forward. The ridiculous styles of the Capitol never cease to amaze me. Narcissus has his hair done in a style that can only be described as three buns on top of each other, and to add to that it's dyed violet. He wars an outlandish tuxedo of the same color. "Welcome everyone!" he says with his laughable accent. He walks to the girl's bowl and draws a name. Here we have it...Becca Ravenwood!"
"I volunteer!" I yell a second later.
"Ohhh, aren't you the eager one? Well come on down!" I walk to the stage with pride, as my family give me nods of approval and Tara gives a blank stare. "Time for our young male to have a chance," the escort says crossing to the next bowl. "We have...Zane Landstander!" I look to Chase, waiting for him to volunteer, but something is wrong, he is hesitating. Why is he hesitating? I need him to volunteer, he is the only worthy opponent I have ever known, the only one I will ever know! I think I see the boy who was the runner up in the tournament begin to get antsy.
Chase turns to the person he's standing next to, I strain my eyes to get a better look at her. I can't believe it, its that thorn in my side, Leellya something. If this girl has made him doubt himself, if she steals my one true adversary, I will come back and kill her. Chase leans in and says something to Leellya, and I think I have lost my greatest opponent, but moments later he yells in a booming voice, "I volunteer!"
Good. Every so often, especially around this girl I've seen flashes of another Chase, one whom I have no respect for. This Chase has no love for the games or anything that surround them. I've wondered if this is some act he puts on for this girl to get her guard down. Probably, but I know there is another possibility. Maybe this girl has touched on something deep inside of Chase. Something he buried long ago.
I have some faint memory of him as a boy, playing childhood games with me in my front yard. The two of us must have been very young; we each began training when we were six. But this foggy memory is before that, before our lives were devoted to such a singular purpose. I think I may have been different then too.
Well, who stays the same person they were when they were five? Not me. As for Chase, he may have had a moment of weakness, but it's passed. Now we are on the verge of giving Panem the greatest Hunger Games it has ever seen!