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8th hunger games
“Welcome, welcome, welcome! It is wonderful to see all these well-lit faces today. Before we begin the ceremony, we are honored to see a film brought all the way from the Capital. Today is the day were we select one fearless man and one glorious women to have the honor of representing District 4 in the 8th annual Hunger Games! May the odds be forever in your favor.” her voice is snobby and deep with the capital accent. I slowly raise my hands up and begin to clap in synce with everyone else. We have to pay our respects. If we don't then we will surely will be shot on the spot. The crowd around me falls silent as the escort begins to display the large screen with her hands like some show girl presenting a price. The anthem starts to play signaling the film is now beginning. I look up and see the images of the war that began this horrible event, the same war that took my mother’s life and left me to take her place in the shop. It has been eight years since the dark days that started the hunger games and for the last three years I have been entered into the reaping. I put my hands behind my back as I look at the short clips that came together to make this film. I am dressed in a plain eggshell colored dress. The sleeves are short and puff up like a cotton ball. There is a white collar and a white strap that ties around the front of my waist into a bow on my back. I have long blond wavy hair that is held back from my face with a small hair clip on each side of my head.
Once the film ended we all take our attention back to the escort standing on the center of the stage. “Well, wasn’t that marvelous!” I could see her glance through the crowd trying to find someone with the same excitement as her. I think everyone is to distract by the way she looks to even know what she is saying. Her hair is dyed black and shaved just like a boy. Everyone can tell her cheek bones where altered. No bone can be that sharp on someone’s face. Her skin is dyed a pale gray color making her look like a zombie. She is wearing a formal black and green women suit with pointy shoulder pads. I don’t really mind what she is wearing. I am not really much on clothes even though I make leather pants and jackets for the shop. I forgot her name. I think it is Sally, Saturn, or something with an s. “Let’s get this show on the road shall we? May the odds be forever in your favor. As always we should start with the ladies.”
I turn my head towards the clear bowl standing to the left of the stage wondering how many little pieces of paper in there have my name written in them. There must hundreds of kids entered in the Hunger Games. “Fifty..,” I said under my breath. There must be fifty pieces of paper with my name in there. Fishing license don’t come cheap in district 4. When they first announced that there will be an opportunity to gain a fishing license most people took the price that came with it without thinking about the consequences and I was one of them. I think this is temporary, to test out how to handle the Tesserae in different districts. I know I should be more scared right now about my name being called but I’m not. I don’t think my name will be called this year. I know other kids who have twice as much of a chance than I do. My dad has this friend who has three daughters. The youngest child is two years younger than me and the two oldest are twins who are 17. My father would tell me how in the dark days more men from district 4 went into battle than the rest of the other districts. That is why we have so many women entering the Hunger Games right now.
Even though the odds are with me, I still am a little on the edge. The escort begins to walk over to the clear bowl filled with hundreds of white ballets. She circles her hand in the bowl a few times before grabbing the tributes name. She turns around and walks back to the center of the stage. My heart begins to race in hopes it’s not me. “Please don’t be me…please don’t be me,” I repeat silently as she begins to open the folded piece of paper. The cool air is silent as we are all memorized by what she will say next. He looks at the paper then at the crowd with a pleasurable smile, “Mags Stone!”
My body ran cold as I turned my head slowly to my father. Dumps ran down my back. My eyes meet with my father’s eyes and at that moment we both know exactly what I need to do. “Mags Morro, Where are you dear? We do not have all day.” I turned my head quickly and look towards the escort ignoring the wondering eyes trying to find the unlucky girl who will be the next sacrifice for the Capital’s entertainment. “Over here,” I say with my best enlightened voice. I raise up my left hand and begin to give a slight wave with a small pleased smile across my face.
“I am over here!”
“What are you doing all the way over there? Come, come and tell us a little about yourself miss.” She extends her arm out to me as if I was standing right next to her about to be helped up from a chair I have been sitting way to long in.
A pathway automatically forms in front of me giving me a straight shot to the stage. My stomach begins to tighten when I take my first step to the stage. The escort’s arm is still extended when I arrive at the stage. I grab her hand gently well she helps me up the stone steps that leads to the top of the stage. I turn and face the crowd and begin to feel a bit light headed. But I can’t faint now, not well the cameras are watching my every move. They film this event in every district from different parts of the day so the Capital could watch it live. From here on out I will have to put up a mask so I will be able to gain sponsors. Sponsors will help me out throughout the games to insure my survival in the arena. I have to impress them. They are a major key in a tribute’s survival.
“Is there anyone who would like to volunteer to take her place?” The crowd stays silent for ten seconds before she proceeds to give her attention to me. “Well dear, is there anything you would like to say?”
I have to say something positive, “I will not let my district down.”
I can think of countless things that can go wrong with this that simple phrase. I would need to gain some other tribute’s trust if I want to prove anything to them. Next time I will be prepared for what might happen next but right now I have to keep a steady mind.
“I am sure you will Mags. I am sure you will…well then shall we proceed to the gentlemen? I do thank you for keeping patience.” She walks gradually to the other bowl filled with white slips of paper and pulls one out immediately. Instead of walking back to center stage she begins to read well standing next to the bowl. It seems like she is in a hurry. Might be because ether our screen time’s almost up or she just wants to get this over with because she might be late for an appointment. I wonder who the male tribute will be. This will be my first insight of what I will be facing in the arena.
A boy around my age walks over to the left side of the crowd and proceeds to walk to the stage. He looks like a bad boy kind of guy. He has black hair with a light tan skin. This must be his last year of being entered. I study his face to see his reaction to his name being called. Nothing, his face is stone. He must have known this day was coming and accepts it. When he reaches the stage he is now standing on the other side of the escort. “Sydney that’s her name...” the women with a shaved head’s name is Sydney. Sydney takes her attention to me with questioning eyes. “Hmm?” I must have said her name out loud. Hopefully it’s not enough to cause attention. “O it’s nothing I’m sorry,” I say weakly. Luckily it was over looked. I wonder if the Capital will be able to edit it out finding it not worth the audience’s time. Sydney takes her attention back to the crowd that looks relived that they are able to survive another year.
“Would there be any volunteers?” there is a quick pause before Sydney opens her mouth to talk, “Well then shall…”
She is cut off by a small voice, “I volunteer!”
Sydney tries to looks for the voice in the crowd, “I volunteer as tribute!”
The crowd around the young boy begins to open up to give Sydney a clear view on where the boy is. I take one look at the boy and my heart sinks. He looks around 12 or 13 years old, he has black hair, and tan skin. He looks so tiny. No strength at all. The crowd beings to murmur to one another with shock. I am reminded of what the games can take away from a family. This is no joke. I know that I would probably die in the games, but once I think about it I am going to lose my life. I don’t want to die.
My thoughts are interrupted by a raising voice coming from next to me. “No...No, no, no, no, no!” I turn my head and see the male tribute being to let it a cry. Whatever he was hiding in that stone face of his begins to poor out. “He doesn’t volunteer! He doesn’t!” the peacekeepers that are meant to keep everything in order immediately take action and drag him down the stage. Well this is going on the crowd is silent again watching everything unfold. The young boy makes his way up the stage as he passes Pinago. Pinago is now cursing at the young boy and fighting to get free. He young boy’s face is trying to hide his sadness but it fails.
I am lead to a room small room with vantage attire. This is the time where my family members are support to come and give me there final goodbyes. What family do I have? All I have is my father. The Capital killed my mother already. What do I have left? Ever since my father heard that few of the other districts have trained their children to survive the games he has been pushing me to do the same. He changed after that. He’s been harder on me since then like some coach or something. In the past I saw the other kids who are like me team up. Some years they use each other just to survive and other years they hunt down the rest just to get the games over with. I’ve trained for less than a year. I better keep that to myself when I arrive at the training center. I would think it would be better to hide what I know till I enter the games. My body feels weak for a moment and I sit down on a soft wooden chair. I sit there for a few moments before my eyes start to water. “I am going to die…” i cover my eyes with my hands trying to hold in my tears. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
The door opens and I look up, it’s my father. The peacekeepers close the door behind him leaving both of us to talk among each other. I whip my eyes and stand up. My father hugs me then looks straight into my eyes. For a while, me and my father spend my last moments reviewing on what I have learned. We talked about fish hooks, traps, and survival methods I will have to use well I am in the games.
“Don’t be too hasty and remember that everyone is your enemy.”
“What should I do about the tributes from district one and two?”
“Make sure you become allies with them. Do whatever you can to be on their side. You will last longer with them if you stick with them…,” he looks at the clock with a disappointment,“…The peace keepers are going to come soon. I wish I would have taught you weapons first,” he looks down for a moment. He reaching inside his pocket and pulls out a bracelet made from dry sea weed.
“That’s beautiful,” my eyes glisten at the object as he slides it onto my left wrist.
“They allow you to have a token in the arena. I want you to have this.”
I lean in and give a kiss on my father’s cheek. “Thank you.” I give a small smile with happiness. The old him who used to always put me first is still there. I am still in his heart.
He hugs me and holds me tight. My father then whispers in my ear, “I gave you this so when the time comes you can eat it if needed.
My hope for my father drops once again as I pull away. This give wasn’t from his heart, it was just another survival tool for me to use in the arena. It was clear he didn’t want to say it out loud because someone might be hearing us and confiscate my token after he leaves. “Do something to amaze the audience.”
“I will do my best.” I know I am not much for words but the least I can do is keep my father’s hope high. I know I am going to die in the arena. The peacekeepers opened the door and wait for my father to exit the room. He gives me one final hug and begins to exit the room. He looks back to give me his last words, “everything you do will affect how much sponsors you get. Don’t forget.” Then he is gone.
I wait in my room for about another hour before the peacekeepers begin to escort me to an automobile. The crowd gathers and watches as the young boy and I both enter the automobile. I never had ridden in one of these before. I would imagine that it would be similar to being on a ship, but it’s not. I look out the window seeing district 4 moving past me. I can see the town’s buildings, the dock, and the sand where some of the major shop owners go to sell illegal items. No one ever gets caught selling the items because the peacekeepers just view the large gathering as a pool party most of the time. I take one final look at the sunset before I am to join the games. Moments later we reach a large gate that leads to the victor’s village. The capital’s train is just past this place. On the other side is the train that will lead us to the capital. The reason why the train is so close to the victor’s village is because sometimes rich families from the capital will come and stay in one of these houses from time to time. Apparently we are the only district desirable to be visited for our land. The village feels like a ghost town. We haven’t had a victor yet here in district 4. Compared to the other districts, I doubt we will have one anytime soon.
Once we reach the other side of the village we enter the train and it begins to take off. The train is again attired with the same style as the room in the justice building. I examine the train cart trying to find anything that reminds me of home, nothing. “We will arrive in the capital at about 9 am tomorrow morning,” Sydney explains to us. “You can do whatever you want here. If you are hungry then we will have our chef’s fry something up for you or is you are tired you can get some rest in your own compartment.”
“What if I just want to hang out…?”
I am startled with the voice coming from my side. I completely forgot he was here to. He kind of blends with the walls it seems. This can be useful if he knew how to use this right. He seems like he is easy to play since he looks like the scared type. Unless he is faking but I highly doubt he is.
“If you follow me dear I will show you where we may be able to ‘hang out’,” She grabs his shoulder and guilds him to the next cart. I follow her. When we enter the cart, there are two avoxes preparing the table. Sydney signals them to go away. They both stop what they were doing and leave the room. I heard about what an avox was when I was around ten. A boy I used to play with, when I was younger lost his mom to the capital too. There was one difference through, his mother was spared. He told me that his mom stood up for what she believed in and they took her away. His father had to explain the truth on what happened to his mother once she was taken away. First they cut off your tongue in some weird angle so you won’t be able to speak. Then they are enslaved to work for the capital for the rest of their lives.
Sydney then sits down at the dinner table waiting for us to join her. I look over at young boy studying on what he is going to do next. He walks to the table and sits down. I mimic his actions.
“Is there anything you would like?”
We both shake our head.
I can hear the boy clears his throat preparing to speak, “since we don’t have a mentor what do we do?”
“You can do whatever you want,” she gives him a glair that makes him quiet down. Before I know it I am speaking.
“How are we going to survive in the arena if we don’t even have a mentor to help us?”
“That doesn’t seem to be my problem now does it.”
I stand up and with a bit of anger. I try to play it off as a causal thing, not trying to make Sydney angry but it fails.
“You can cut the crap Miss, “I am startled with the answer she gives me. I am sure the boy is also surprised, “I know you are faking it. Trust me no one here will sponsor you so don’t try to act like this well behaved girl, because you’re not.”
I take a moment to take in what she has just said then I decided to show my true colors, “Fine.” I sit back down and take the fork on the table and begin to play with it. Off the corner of my eye I can see her take her attention to my district partner who is now obviously her favorite.
“Since your district doesn’t have a victor to mentor you yet. They have selected me to take the place of both your escort and mentor. I am what you call a capital’s assistant.”
The boy begins to speak as I stay quiet listening on what he has to say.
“How can you help us if you never been in the arena?”
“Well I am the Capital’s assistant. The other mentors can only tell you how to survive from the other consistence. Well I can tell you how to survive from the capital’s weapons,” her eyes grew grim in a joyful way. I suspect from the hearing of “capital’s weapons”.
“What kind of weapons do they have?” says the boy
“Fire, water, wind….anything really. I can tell you the warning signs of what the capital might do during the games.”
I look up and respond to her reply,” so you are telling us that you can’t only show us how to get sponsors from the capital but also give us survival skills that can help us survive the capital’s traps?”
“Correct,” she sounds as if she has forgiven me.
Then it dawns on me, Sydney didn’t work her way to the top but manipulated her way to the top. She was trained to gain District 4 a victor. She may not be deadly in a fight, however, with words she will kill. She is the most cunning person I will ever meet. This is exactly the person I would need to learn from if I ever hope to win the games.