Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane, 37
"Good luck out there, Seneca," whispers my wife, Addilyn. Her expression is worried for me, but it doesn't hide her incessant beauty. Her pale face is graced with two dark arches for eyebrows and the most incredible long, black eyelashes you've ever seen.
"Thank you, honey," I tell her, my grip tightening on the file folder I hold. "I just hope he won't think that this year is too excessive. I worked really hard on this."
"Why would it be too excessive?" Addilyn asks.
"Well, sweetie. A Quarter Quell is right around the corner and he wants that to be more memorable, naturally."
"I see," she muses.
A woman with lime green tendrils around her oval-shaped face pokes her head out of the office. "President Snow is waiting for you," she deadpans, her eyes flickering over to Addilyn for a brief moment before her head pops back into the room.
Addilyn hugs me for a moment, then hurries back to wait on the sofa with our son.
I inhale sharply before entering through the heavy door.
The lime-green haired woman is nowhere to be seen- instead, it's just President Snow, who sits sipping a red mug of something brown. "Welcome, Seneca," he greets me coldly, even though we've been acquaintances for three years now. "Let's get right down to business, shall we?"
I swallow nervously. "Yes, sir," I declare, spreading a white sheet over his desk.
It takes four or five minutes for him to fully consume the idea of this arena. He strokes his beard thoughtfully, slurping down more of his drink. Me? I sit in the chair feeling like a canary being looked over by a tomcat. I'm terrified.
Suddenly Snow looks up, his blue eyes piercing through me sharply. "Seneca," he addresses me firmly. "You do know that the Quarter Quell is in just three years, correct?"
"I am aware, sir," I say.
"Although this arena idea is fine, it may be a bit too extravagant for a Games that comes nearly directly before the Quell."
"A funfair idea seems fine, sir," I begin nervously, "and we could tone it down a little. Perhaps take away the human muttations and the food booths-"
"No." Snow shakes his head. "Seneca, I told you what I was looking for. Something historical this year. And this is more modern. We still have these 'funfairs' throughout Panem!"
"It was also brought to my attention that the outlier districts have not had a victor for twenty years. Meaning, of course, Ten, Eleven, and Twelve. This arena should be modified to fit one of those districts, therefore giving one of them an edge."
"Sir, that's never been done before-"
"I know it." He interrupts again. "But if they don't have a victor soon, Ten could rebel. It's one of the largest districts. Their last victor was seventeen years ago, Seneca! Two has had THREE in that time, One having FIVE!" he's standing now, his hands slammed down on the desk in anger. "Do what you are told or PAY THE PRICE!"
I back away numbly, my eyes wide in fear. "Yes, President Snow," I reply coldly, my heart in my throat. With that, I snatch up the map of the funfair arena and dart out.
Addilyn springs up. "What did he say?" she asks cheerfully. "That was quick!"
"He… hated the funfair idea," I tell her. "Said it wasn't historical enough."
Her jaw drops to the ground. "You worked two months on that arena!" she exclaims. "Seneca, the Reapings start in two weeks. You'll only have three weeks to create another arena idea to pitch!"
I sigh. "Let's head home, Addi."
Tetris, my eleven-year-old son, follows at our heels mournfully, his huge brown eyes downcast. He doesn't understand much, but he does understand that this is not very good news just by our tones. I'll fill my family in on more at supper. But for now, I have an arena to plan.
Dinner comes. Addilyn makes my favorite meal, baked chicken rolled in horseradish with sautéed asparagus and cornbread. But I can scarcely eat. I threw away six arena possibilities already, and I'm having a lot of trouble coming up with something that would tie in to an outlier district.
"Papa, are you OK?" Tetris pipes up after we say grace. "Your face is sad."
I smile faintly. "I'm all right, Tetris. Just tired."
"Then you have been tired all day, for your face has been like that since this morning when you came out of Mr. Snow's office."
I try not to say something bitter. Instead, I stab a few asparagus spears onto my fork and delicately chew. "Wonderful meal, sweetie."
"Thank you!" Addilyn perks up from dejectedly staring into her chicken. "I used paprika this time in the cornbread. Can you tell?"
Tetris takes a huge bite and almost immediately spits it into his napkin. "Spicy," he gags.
"Tetris," I say sternly, glancing warily at my own cornbread. Oh, well. Might as well while there's a glass of milk at my place.
"Well? Is it spicy?" Addilyn questions anxiously, watching my face closely.
"Perhaps just a bit," I respond, taking a couple swigs of milk. "Nothing excessive, though."
After a few moments of chewing and swallowing in silence, Addilyn breaks the barrier. "Seneca, I can't stand it. Did you come up with another arena pitch or not?"
My face falls. "I've had lots of good ideas since this morning, Addi. A historical shopping mall, historical nature reserve. Things like that. But Snow says they're supposed to tie into an outlier district, namely Ten, Eleven, or Twelve."
"A horse stable!" Tetris exclaims. "For District Ten!"
I smile weakly. "I've thought of that, Tetris. Nice idea, though. But it wouldn't work. This arena needs to be big, and horse stables would cover perhaps half a square mile."
"What about a coal mine for Twelve?"
"There's too great a risk that it could collapse on the tributes, and then there wouldn't be a victor at all."
"Not even a forest? District Eleven has orchards, doesn't it?"
"That's a possibility."
We all sit there in our dining room. The only sounds are clinking of forks against the plates and dejected chewing.
As if on a silent cue, my wife gasps and springs up from her chair, knees knocking together excitedly. "Seneca, I've got it!" she announces joyfully, and whispers it into my ear.
My brown eyes grow huge as I listen into more and more of her suggestion. Tetris looks at us questioningly.
I jump up beside my wife, something that is very out of character for me. "Addilyn, you've got it!" I sing out. "Not even Snow could reject that idea! It ties in perfectly with both the outlier district AND the historical theme! You're a GENIUS!"
"Aren't I?" she jokes.
Nearly two weeks later I revisit Snow's office with a confident grin on my face that nothing could wipe off. When I spread the paper over his desk this time, his reaction is immediate. He can't hide his pleasure as he scans the sheet, not even stopping when he comes to the rockiest part.
"Seneca Crane…" he begins, hiding a positive smile behind his fist, "this arena is one of the best I've seen. I never really expected you to tie in with both themes, but you really have exceeded my expectations. Congratulations!"
"You'll use it? Sir?" I add hastily.
"Yes," President Snow declares confidently. Gazing out his picturesque window, he continues on, "This arena truly is beautiful. The perfect place for one victor to rise to glory, for twenty-three others to fall at their mercy. Yet it won't completely overshadow the Quell's arena. This biome is a piece of historical art, Seneca. One of the best arenas I have seen in all my years of president."
"Thank you, sir," I say after a moment's hesitation. I really don't want to break this amazing moment with a 'sir'.
He turns back to me. "As usual, I'll expect you to send the muttation forms over to Mr. Krock at the breeding facility to begin creating these creatures, yes?"
"I will, sir."
"And remember to print extra blueprints once you get them to the builders. Most of them forget those maps at home and have to use others'."
As I walk out of the office, a grin plastered firmly onto my face that nothing could shake, I feel the weight of the world slowly being lifted off my clavicles.
A/N: Well, well, well. We're back with a second SYOT! The form is on my profile, submit as many as you want for a better chance of getting into the 71st Games. I only accept forms by PM, though. Make a note of that!
Quick thing- I have already chosen the females from 1, 2, and 4 so please don't bother writing up a form for them. But all the others are fair game. Tell your friends, too! ^-^
May the odds be ever in your favor!