Welcome to the nightmare; a state of complacency.
Quinn Farlowe- Vice President- 47 years old
This is a nightmare, my thoughts scream as I sort frantically through the papers. This serves you right for taking on this job, Quinn.
"No," I mutter, clenching my teeth, "that's not true…"
No matter what thoughts have planted themselves in my head, they're not true. Never true. I know for a fact that taking on this job was my destiny; it has to be. Juliet didn't come right out and say what she was thinking, but if she did, I'm sure she'd have said that I was the right person for this job.
"Quinn?" a small, mousy-haired woman with brightly colored spectacles peers inside my room. "Er— Mrs. Farlowe?"
"You can call me Quinn, Amelia." I smile. "We've known each other for long enough." I know she's just calling me Mrs. Farlowe to humor me— she honestly has known me since she herself was just seventeen, an apprentice.
She replies with a soft smile of her own, scampering to my desk. "Brought your coffee. Need a pick-me-up, Quinn?"
"More than anything," I mutter, sipping gratefully from the thin white cup. "Tulip brought the arena plans over this morning, but I seem to have misplaced the sheet of muttations."
"Arena plans!" Amelia squeaks, her eyes widening. "So late? It's almost a month before the Games!"
I bare my teeth grimly in the form of some sort of twisted grin. "Tulip has never been good on dates, has she?"
"Tell me about it. Last year, didn't she forget to give you the plans for the right half of the arena until just a half week before the Games?" Amelia shakes her head. "I swear, Quinn, that woman's onto something. It's insane that I'm curious about what's going on inside her head."
"Don't blame yourself," I sigh heavily. "We all have, at some point of another. But hey… put yourself in her shoes, Amelia. Haven't you ever—"
A sudden noise at the far side of my office makes my heart skip a beat. Wide-eyed, I whip my head around to see Mrs. Snow, her fluffy blond hair swishing silently around her shoulders. Her pale eyes stare coldly at me.
"I do not appreciate you, of all people, talking about myself behind my back," she says quietly, her eyes unblinking.
"No!" I cry, hurrying to cover myself up. "I wasn't talking about you, Mrs. Snow, never! I was rather talking about Tulip Carbonne- Amelia and I were annoyed by her lack of professionalism, that's all. We were glad she gave us the arena plans on time."
Mrs. Snow's eyes flicker over cowering Amelia, who's shielding her eyes. Mrs. Snow sighs, her melodic tone breathy. "I have complete faith in my father's choices," she tells me. "I would never dare doubt his decisions. He chose Tulip Carbonne to be Head Gamemaker, and I trust him fully. I'd ask you to do the same, Mrs. Farlowe."
Instead of standing up to her, something inside of me weakens, and I shrink under her calculating stare. "I'm sorry," I say shakily. "I…. It was silly of me to judge her so quickly, Mrs. Snow. It's my second year of being a vice president… I must ask you to forgive me."
Her pale eyes narrow, but she nods slowly. "I accept your apology, Mrs. Farlowe. Next time I ask you not to voice your opinions when you're yet unsure of them."
My cheeks heat up. She's basically telling me to censor my thoughts!
Mrs. Snow looks at Amelia, frowning slightly. "Did I authorize an assistant for you, Mrs. Farlowe?"
"Um, I don't believe so," I reply skittishly, "but you said I could hire a number of Avoxes, and one talking assistant wouldn't be as bad… she's getting paid and all that…" My blabbermouth is off again. I quickly shut my trap, glancing at Mrs. Snow for some sort of reaction. Nope, she's keeping that pokerface…
"Adorable," she says stiffly. "Though, Mrs. Farlowe, when I do not authorize something, that means it is not allowed."
I swallow dryly, really craving some vitamin-infused protein water or something right now. I could use a caffeine blast. "May I ask why?" I question timidly. I'm not too crazy at the thought of giving up loyal, sweet Amelia…
Mrs. Snow laughs forcedly, her tone uneven. "I'd thank you not to question my reasons. It would be very wise, indeed…"
I fiddle with a loose string on my sage green pea coat. "What should I do with her, then, Mrs. Snow?"
The blond woman casts her gaze to timid Amelia, who is visibly quivering. No doubt she's imagining images of herself being executed, hung, or even being turned into one of those wretched Avoxes…
"You may keep this one," Mrs. Snow says tiredly, "but any more, and I'll have their tongues sliced out and they will be forced to serve the tributes. Just one assistant is plenty for a woman of your ranking."
I can barely believe my ears. Instead of shaking her shoulders in joy and, I don't know, throwing a party or something, I remain calm and offer up a civilized smile. "Thank you so very much…"
"Mm." the president nods, her eyes flicking to Amelia once more before putting up her hand in a sort of blunt wave. "Come by my office tomorrow at nine, Mrs. Farlowe. We have much to discuss involving the arena. Tulip will be there as well."
"Will do, Mrs. Snow." I wave back, watching her retreating form silently slip out the door. Amelia bounds up from her spot near the glassy, opaque windows, beaming wildly.
"Wonderful news, isn't it?" she asks through an obvious smile. "I'm so glad that she allowed me to stay! I just couldn't imagine working for anybody else, anywhere else, honestly…"
I'm quiet, nodding and humming every so often at her excited words. "It is rather sublime, isn't it?"
As Amelia prances around my office happily, I'm tangled in my own web of thoughts. The arena this year is more complex than ever… it rivals only a few of the past arenas. It's so amazing… and so twisted…
It's not wonder that Mrs. Snow had the idea first, then referred it over to Tulip.
"You know, I think I'll take the day off a bit early…" I mumbled, slipping on my cashmere scarf and pushing in my chair. "Just need a bit of rest, is all. Some time to myself, to think…"
Amelia's dancing stops short, and she quickly nods solemnly. "I understand, Quinn. Take all the time you need. If you want, I can call you tonight—"
"No, no, you're okay. I remember. Nine tomorrow morning at Mrs. Snow's office. I… I just need some time alone, Amelia. Thank you for the offer…"
Snatching up the manila folder containing the arena plans, I scurry out the door without a backward glance.
Once I'm at my comfortable, high-security apartment a few blocks away from my office, I find time to relax for once. Moving to the living room where I can watch over the glistening lights of the Capitol as the day draws to an end, I spread out the vast arena plans over the coffee table. From there, I grab a soft-leaded pencil and start sketching out my notes.
I'm so immersed in my work, the slightest of gasps shocks me.
"Mumma, this is amazing!"
I glance up, still half-weary, to see my beautiful four-year-old daughter, her mouth outstretched in a wide gasp. "Lookit that! So pretty!"
I smile, stifling a giggle. "I had a feeling you'd say that, Dia. This arena is designed… well, for now it's a secret, but I think you can piece together some of what it is!"
Dia moves around the table, murmuring things to herself as her huge brown eyes gaze over the miniscule landmarks. "Can I watch the Hunger Games this year, Mumma?"
I purse my lips, thinking. "Maybe… or how about I record them and you watch them in a couple years?"
Dia's bottom lip trembles. "But Mumma… I wanna see this 'rena!"
"I know you do, darling, but you're still too young—"
Dia offers me a hideous scowl before running out of the room, sniffling. I sigh, watching her small body dart down the hallway. I wish I could show Dia the Games this year—they're going to be amazing for sure. But I'm still afraid that the bloodshed and the killing will mar her…
Clutching my pencil, I go back to marking my own notes down, shaking my head and nodding on occasion.
This arena is designed to mess with their minds— to prove to them that, for once, what they are so familiar with may not be an advantage.
A/N: Wake Up by Colton Dixon.
And so begins the 90th Hunger Games—Contrary! I gave you a couple hints on the arena… nothing big too far, but hopefully, maybe you can piece some of it together.
As always, the tribute form is on my profile! I'll accept PM's only, but other than that, anybody can submit, and I'd love if you were detailed. Thanks again, and- oh- a review wouldn't hurt, either. ;)