{{ contest.story_page_sticky_bar_text }} Be the first to recommend this story.
Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

0
Free copies left
You can choose from our best books below
TJ_Flynn would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Darkest Before the Dawn: The 71st Hunger Games

By TJ_Flynn

Thriller / Action

Prologue

One Week Before the Reaping

The Capitol

Chace Castellan

My hand moves on its own across the paper, I've done this so many times before that it's become instinctual at this point. It's my skill, all victors have to learn a skill, and mine is charcoal drawings. It's different than the coal from District 12; this coal comes from burning special trees from 7 in a specific way. I've been to both Districts a couple times, and I remember how shocked I was at what I saw the first time. The first stop on the victory tour was 12, I couldn't believe the way they lived, they practically had nothing. That was three years ago, after I won the 68th games.

"Hey," Edmund, District 5's victor from a few years ago, slaps me on the back, "What ya drawin'?" I draw all kinds of things for the Capitol, but there is only one kind of drawing I do for myself. Portraits, specifically of those that died in my games; Finch, Dale, Azeika, even my old district partner Storm. The one I'm working on right now is the same one I've drawn a hundred times before, Proxy. "You're drawin' Proxy huh?"

"Yes," I answer quietly. I can hear Edmund shuffling his deck of cards, and I know what's coming next.

"Pick a card, any card." Of all the talents to choose from Edmund chose magic tricks.

I sigh. "Why magic?"

Edmund cocks his head to the side as he so often does and smiles wryly. "Magic is just like the Hunger Games, which you and I had the good fortune of surviving."

"How?"

"Both are made to entertain, but both are about deceiving the viewer, and distracting them." He shuffles the deck once more. "You think you see one thing, but you only see what the one holding the cards wants you to see."

"Alright fine, I'll play along," I shrug. I draw a card; it's the eight of clubs.

"Memorize it," he informs me. I nod letting him know I've committed it to memory. "Now place it back in the deck and shuffle the cards."

"So how is this like the games?"

"You have selected, seemingly at random, a card, much like the tributes are drawn from the reaping bowl. This is the first part of the trick, a selection."

"Do you really believe the reapings are always random? They know what name will come out of that bowl whenever they want," I sneer.

"Do you really believe I didn't know what card you would draw?" This catches me off guard, but I know this is just part of the deception, he couldn't possibly know what card I would draw, I didn't even know. I quickly check the cards making sure that there aren't duplicates or something, but it seems to be a real deck. "Alright, hand me the deck please," he asks. I place the deck in his hand and he inspects it searching for the card.

"So this is…"

"This is like the games themselves, I'm shuffling through the cards, but you aren't sure what will happen, some cards are discarded," He tosses a card to the floor, "Others kept, for a time…" He slips a card back into the deck. "This is the main event, when I have your attention, when you are most distracted…"

"Fine where is my card?"

"It's not in the deck," He answers simply.

"What?"

"You see this is the last part of the trick, the finale, where all the distraction pays off." He smiles.

"So this is like the end of the games, the victor and all that?"

"Yes, but of course, like myself, the gamemakers are nothing if not theatrical, so any good trick, or Hunger Games won't end the way you think. Check your pocket."

Slowly I reach into my pocket, and sure enough there is the eight of clubs.

"Very nice," I think I'll get back to my drawing." I say dismissing his impressive trick.

"I hope you learned something…" He smiles and walks away to talk to some other victors. Edmund only the second male tribute in District 5's history, and the only one in the rebellion. Edmund's mentor, Onyx Amarous, is a worse drunk than even Haymitch, and he never seemed to be the rebellious type, he was practically a career from District 5.

There aren't many careers in the rebellion; there are only a couple others besides myself, people like my friend Finnick. The Capitol has really done horrible things to him, to all of us. Of course everyone in this room has done horrible things. I killed three people in those games, my closet childhood friend, my ally and a defenseless little kid. I've drawn all of them in charcoal again and again.

That's why I joined the rebellion, to fight the evil of the Capitol. But the more time that goes by, I can't help but wonder if I've traded one devil for another. The deeper I get into the rebellion, the more frustrating it becomes. Some in the rebellion seem more concerned with seizing power for themselves than freeing Panem, chief among them is District 13's president, Almia Coin. She is difficult to read, she's shifty, unpredictable. At least with Snow I know where I stand, he deals in cruelty, while Coin deals in deception.

It seems that I have to choose the lesser of two evils, Coin is not killing twenty-four children in a giant spectacle, however I wouldn't put it past her to do it if she thought it would put her in power. While we have never met face to face, I've spoken to her over video transmission many times. I push for us to rise up and rebel, but Coin insists the time isn't right. Every year more die in the games and we do nothing, and things are getting worse. The C.U. the self-righteous Citizens United, are responsible for the death or arrest of hundreds. They accuse and report rebel sympathizers, or just plain harass anyone they dislike.

Snow will take vengeance on the people of Panem as well, between Proxy at my games, and Annie Cresta winning last year the Capitol will want to remind everyone who is in control. We have people working undercover, including two gamemaker, Pluarch Hevensbee and Virgil Williams. Pluarch is with Coin, always scheming, laying in wait to take power. Virgil is different however, I really do trust him. He wants to end the games as soon as possible, he sees the twenty-four who die each year as people, not just statistics.

The Capitol continues to send these children to their death and we only watch. I'm glad there are so many other victors from 2 so I don't personally have to mentor the children who will either die or become murderers. If what Virgil tells me is true this year may be one of the worst ones yet.

Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

Nichole P. Conard: The characters are well created and pull you along through the story. The plot is well thought out, with some interesting turns. I was unsure what was going to happen, several times in the story, which is a grand point, as who wants to know they have figured out the story correctly...once they ge...

Tiffany Thomson: This story is not something I would normally pick up and read but I'm so glad I did, I wasn't able to put it down and my husband was yelling at me at 3am to put it down and go to bed (just waited for him to doze back off before picking it back up)I really hope Natalie brings out another book eith...

Deleted User: It was a great hook. I do not like reading scifi because they end up being like all the rest but this one kept me wanting more.

Muhammed Arfin: really nice.I m reading novel after a long time.it is really fascinating.those people interested in espionage will like this tale.if one needs to advance his know how about espionage this book is your destination

nikole carr: After starting and stopping several books tonight, this book caught my attention from the very beginning and i stayed up until 6 a.m. to finish reading. The plot has many twists and the sexual scenes keep it interesting, too. im a florida native so the Caribbean location is fun to read about. th...

CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...

Kaitlyn Bier: This is a great story! I love how well you go into detail and emotions of Capri, and Mel. You have amazing dialogue and overall it's just a thrill to read!The only critique I could find is that some of the paragraphs should be separated. For example:-"If Nia would have just let me take the car an...

Althea Kerr: This is a tale that is all too familiar to South African readers having lived through a war era on our borders and beyond. It is obviously autobiographical as the mind under duress is so detailed and real. It has fantastic suspense if a bit disjointed - perhaps that is the fear and loneliness com...

harry142018: This story was gripping and very professionally written. With lots of twists and slight of hand tricks, the author deceives the reader until finally showing their cards at the end. With several subplots all intertwining to create the main plot, this really is an interesting and engaging read.

More Recommendations

taosgw74: If this is the authors first attempt at writing, I'm floored. I was engrossed in the plot from the get go.

kim: This is great! Maybe it could just be a little more specific. One of the keys to great writing is describing things in detail. I think you're off to a great start. I wish you much luck.

C.K. Bachman: Just read the first chapter. Love how the main character thinks and is conflicted over his wife and the trickery he uses on her.

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.