hey! so this is easily the longest victor I've written so far, she sort of just happened, it was a fun journey to write. I hope you enjoy it. Here's the story of Marney Thompson
There's no one but me this time, and I'll take the easy life. - 'Easy Path' by Seafood
The head of the axe chops cleanly through the oak and the piece splinters in half. One chunk flies past Dominic's head. He ducks out of the way and laughs.
"Trying to kill me Marn? That's not really very kind of you." He throws a piece of wood at my feet and I jump away giggling.
"Can't help myself, you're just so damn annoying!" I grin wide and wipe the sweat from my brow. It's been a hot summer for District Seven and cutting wood for 8 hours a day isn't really helping me stay cool. A few days ago Jayla had to took the week off, and yesterday Royce had to take a few hours off because of heat exhaustion. They're two of our best axemen!
"Break?" I ask Dom. He nods. We find a pair of tree stumps and sit down. He throws me a waterskin and I chug down my fill. Our friends Oakland and Pox join us chugging down their shares of the water.
"The worst part about the Hunger Games is honestly all the new regulations. I mean, now we have to ration water. Even during the worst part of the war we had all the water we needed." Pox says holding his canteen upside, empty.
"My favorite is how they don't understand why our quotas aren't being met. Every day a third of us pass out and the everyone else tries to pick up the slack." Oakland chimes in.
"You guys really shouldn't complain so loudly. Things are still tense with the higher ups and the second that someone hears what we're saying we're totally fired." I whisper to them. Some people call me cautious, I prefer to think of it as selectively bold.
"Easy for you to say Marn. You don't have a family to care for." Pox sits. Jayla only recently came back to work after they had their child. Little baby Frass is beautiful and one of the only beacons of hope in my life, but it certainly but a strain on Pox and Jayla. Now that Jayla has been out of commission a week I can only imagine the stress Pox is under to provide for them. Everyone tries to help out, but since the war things have gotten a little hierarchal, and we're on the short end of the stick.
Apparently The Capital holds a special grudge against us for supplying everyone with ironwood, the strongest and most durable nonmetal in Panem. Makes for strong canoes, boats, even shields when we got that desperate. But bullets don't care about wooden shields very much.
I drink the final few drops from my canteen and frown. This is my last ration until we're done. The sun tells me that we've got about 2 more hours of work left. I internally groan at myself.
"Come on guys get up." Dominic prodes. "I'm not getting yelled at for your lazy asses." He throws a few wood chips at us and we all jump up with smiles. That's the effect that Dominic has on people, he just makes them smile. It's a gift I crave. I grab my ax from the stump and head over to my next tree.
Not going to hack itself.
The sun finally sets under the horizon and our work day is done. Not even 15 feet out the door down the road home Dominic is on me. "So tomorrow after the reaping we going to have that date?" Dominic bumps me in the shoulder as I undo my ponytail. He's been asking me out for a few weeks now, the kid has determination.
"If I said yes you wouldn't find me nearly as exciting." I wink at him and ruffle my messy dark brown locks, the breeze feels amazing.
"Oh come on, you're playing hard to get and you know it." He nudges me again. I can't help but smile as I roll my eyes. He's right, I am playing hard to get. Why would I want to get intimately involved with one of my best friends? If things went poorly then everyone we know has to pick a side and that's so messy. It's just not something I'm willing to risk right now.
"You're cute. Why don't you ask again tomorrow." I wink at him. This time he rolls his eyes. He is adorable. Sandy blonde hair so uncharacteristic of District Seven and bright green eyes that any foliage would be jealous of. And his biceps, the true sign of a District Seven man.
He just doesn't understand, I'm not a gambler.
"Welcome everyone!" Some Capital representative stands up on the stage gleefully smiling about being the lucky woman to pull pieces of paper from a bowl. Not my idea of exciting. But if it floats your boat so be it. "Before we get started we have a film from The Capital for all of you!"
That's new. The past two years we've just gone straight into yanking names. The film is a short little tidbit that details the destruction of District Thirteen and tells us all about the riches the victor will receive from The Capital. All information we already have and know. Just more resources wasted on redundancy. It does make them seem very kind and benevolent though, so if that was their goal I suppose they've accomplished it. Not that anyone with a brain would buy into it. We're going to be missing family members for a generation.
"Now let us begin." She prances over to the female bowl, her heels echoing loudly among the otherwise silent crowd. "Marney Thompson." I cough surprised to hear my name. The past two years they've only ever picked 18 year olds and I'm only 16! There's gotta be some clerical mistake. Or something. I stand my ground as two peacekeepers grab my wrists and 'escort' me to the stage. I struggle against them as much as I can, but they're much stronger than me.
"Excellent, so much spirit." I glare at her until her green eyes meet my brown ones. "And the boy will be Pox Forrester."
"Fuck!" Pox yells from the crowds. He shoves his way angrily through everyone until he's with me. He grabs my hand rudely and shakes it. "You fucking happy?" He starts to berate the name bowl drawing lady.
This isn't going to be good.
"I love you too Mom." She holds me close and rubs my back. "You'll see me soon."
"Bye Marney." My little brothers Teagan and Smithson both latch onto me and ruffle their hair like I always do. They're both 11, old enough to understand what's going on. What death is.
"You better behave while I'm gone. I expect nothing but good things from you two." I leave off the unspoken bit about how I might be gone forever, for my sake more so than theirs. After they leave Dom and Oakland come in. I notice that Jayla isn't with them.
"What're you going to do?" Oakland questions me forcefully.
"What do you mean 'what am I going to do'? I'm going to fight and come home." I respond instinctively.
"You're willing to let that baby grow up without a dad? That's fucked up Marn." Oakland says with tears in his eyes. My blood boils and for once in my life I let my rage fly.
"Oakland get the fuck out. I don't need your shit. I know you like him more and that he's more important than me to all of you but that doesn't mean I'm giving up for him. Fuck that. My life is more important to me." I point a finger at the door. "Leave. Now." He obeys. I grab my head and start walking in a circle until Dom engulfs me in his arms.
"Come home for me. Please. Fuck them. Come back to me." I press my lips against his hard. I try so hard to remember everything about this second. The smell of sweat and pine, the taste of mint, his rough hands on the sides of my face. His warm lips. It's my first kiss. It might be the only one I ever have.
In a flash a pair of peacekeepers drag him away from me. Before he leaves I shout. "I had to do that at least once." Then he's gone.
"This is so fucked up Marney." Pox sits across from me in the train. He bites into an apple like it wronged him before throwing it across the train cart. "Let's make a deal."
"I'm listening." It's unlike Pox to suggest a deal. He's not a give and take person, only take. Unless it's his family, which I know I'm not.
"You and me until the top 6 and then no strings attached." I consider his offer for a moment. Pox is the strongest kid in our group, probably one of the strongest in the district. He's been around axes since he was 10 and he just agreed to help me get to the top 6.
"Fair warning, no strings attached means no strings attached."
"Darling you look beautiful!" A man finished throwing glitter in my hair and as much as I hate him I agree. My hair is intricately braided with golden and green ribbons inserted for effect. My eyes pop with the blue contacts they gave me and the green shadowy makeup gives me a mysterious and dangerous looking appearance.
The dressed me up in a form fitting dress that frays out at the end. It looks like vines have woven their way around my body. It's honestly beautiful. I look dangerous, like the power of nature is mine to command.
Once I reach my chariot it only takes a few seconds before a redheaded boy comes up to me.
"My names Eerie. District Four. You look pretty hot in that get up. Must be District Seven am I right?" He licks his lips as his eyes undress me.
"Yeah, she is pervert. Now back the fuck up before I rearrange your face." Pox comes out of no where, clothed in only a tight pair of undies. He has paint on his body his accents his finer features and makes him look very attractive.
"Wow calm down man. Just being friendly." Eerie holds his hands up in defense.
"Why don't you go be friends with someone else then? Doesn't that sound nice?" Eerie scampers away like a cat with his tail between his legs. "Fucking loser." I want to tell Pox that he was harsh, that I can handle myself. But I don't. That's not a smart move considering he's defending me. I'll keep it that way for as long as possible.
Once we start moving and reach the spotlights of the stadium it's clear that my costume is the undisputed favorite. It helps that Pox is looking good next to me but it's my costume they pan over the most. The girl from Five also gets some screen time with her electrical dress but I'm the focus.
I feel confident. Powerful. Dangerous.
Those feelings stayed with me the entire time I was in the Capital. I wish I carried them with me into The Games too. Can't have it all I suppose.
Training consisted mostly of watching Pox piss off different people. He goes to the axe station every day and does nothing but swing at dummies and shout at anyone who comes close to him. The boy from District One, Ace, confronted him once about how he was starting to scare his much younger district partner, but Pox didn't care. Pox screamed at Ace and threatened to dismember his district partner.
Pox certainly knows how to scare people.
I spend my time with less pizzaz. People noticed when I went to the axe station for a little combat training because I wasn't intimidated away. Again I felt confident going up to the person everyone kept calling unstable.
"Tree and people aren't that different you know." The trainer tells me as I swing at a dummy's chest. "If you strike low and they fall down then the hard part is already over." He points to the legs and I take a step back and swing again. I go right through the right leg and mostly through the second. "Now tell me, how is this tribute going to fight back?" The trainer winks at me and I smile.
"Thanks for the advice." I practice for another hour until I feel confident in my ankle biting abilities. The rest of training is a blur of knots and first aid.
"Marney Thompson." The monotoned voice beckons me.
"Give something to talk about Marn." Pox tells me with a nod. I walk through a short hallway before the Game makers greet me.
"You have 5 minutes miss. Good luck." I don't waste anytime. I grab some hempen rope, strong, sturdy, and fibrous. I tie a few knots and hang a dummy from a pole. then I get my mitts on an axe. I do the same leg crushing technique the trainer showed me on 4 dummies in a row before throwing the axe into the chest of the dummy I had already hung up. By the time the buzzer tells me to go there's sweat on my brow and a cocky smile on my face.
That was impressive by anyone's standards.
I wasn't wrong. My skills earned me the highest score of any female, a 9. Eerie scored an 8, Ace scored an 11, and Pox scored a 10. A few other stand out were the girl from 10 who got an 8, and the pair from Two who both got 8's. I couldn't help but notice that the little girl who Ace said was his district partner, Ella, was the only tribute to score below a 4. Across the board it's the highest batch of tributes yet. But still, I scored the highest for the girls. Clearly they already know who's coming back from all this.
"Everyone is raving about you! Please tell us what makes Marney Thompson tick!" Lucan, implores me. He seems genuinely interested in me, my talents, my skills, my history. So I tell him everything. We talk about the outfit, my trip here, how The Capital has been treating me. After a while he asks me about what District Seven is like.
"District Seven is hard work. I've been chopping down trees since I was 12 it's how I got these." I flex my muscles and the crowd erupts with applause. They love me, as they should.
"So then is it safe to say that you got that impressive 9 with some axe work?" He asks me genuinely.
"Yes it was, you're a clever man. Although I'm also pretty good with knots if you know what I mean." I wink into the crowd and they gasp before laughing. I get a few catcalls from the audience. It's all very flattering.
"Kinky my dear." Lucan says between laughs. Even though I'm not sure exactly what he means by kinky considering I'm a super virgin.
"A girl has to keep things interesting." Even I join in the laughter. A buzzer signals me to leave. The crowd screams and begs for more, and I wish I could stay I leave them with a promise though. "Don't worry I'll keep things interesting for you while I'm in the arena."
"So the windbreaker makes me think you might be getting some rain or lightning storms, but more likely than not it's going to just be really breezy all the time. Oh and these shoes have really strong soles so I would be expecting some pavement or cliffs. These will make for great climbing." My stylist tells me. Her name is Shan, and she's been nothing shy of perfect. I hold her in a hug.
"I'll see you soon?" I ask her.
"Of course. You are my favorite." She motions for me to enter the tube, and I do. It seals around me with a claustrophobic finality. Then I start to rise. A harsh breeze fills the tube as I go up until I break the surface and understand why.
We're on the top of a skyscraper. All 24 of us are atop a building stories above the ground. We all teeter on the edge, one step away from falling to a certain death. About 25 yards forward is a pillar that we're meant to climb up a ways to reach the golden horn. At the base of the pillar are the only visible escape routes. A few elevator doors that lead to another skyscraper no doubt. Any tribute who gets in one of those with an enemy will surely die. It's all very clever. I look around and can't find Pox anywhere. We did agree to meet at the cornucopia so it doesn't matter.
Confidence surges through me. I'm an excellent climber, being around trees does that to you. This is a perfect start. Once the timer runs out I burst forth with a smile. Almost everyone around me hesitates for a second but not me. I'm the first person I can see to reach the climbing pillar. I scamper up as quickly as possible. The stoney surface is rough on my hands but I ignore the pain and push further upwards.
Finally my fingers reach the top ledge. I heave myself over and find I'm the first person to the golden horn. Only, there's no food. No water. No backpacks. Just weapons. I push aside the thought of not being able to eat and grab a big axe then attach two more smaller ones to my belt.
More tributes are starting to get over the edge Ace to my right followed closely by Pox who meets him with a fist. The two boys fight hell bent on ending each other. Ace is very skilled with mace he grabbed. They parry back and forth.
I see Eerie's bright red hair start to peak over the lip of the pillar and I go over to him. He looks up at me, his fingers barely clutching onto the edge.
"Am I still hot?" I ask him as I step on his fingers. His first hand lets go quickly. And I take pleasure stomping on the second one and watching him fall. He lands head first and even from up here I can see his greymatter splattered across the ground. It looks like a stain of red and grey exploding from his head. I turn around to the fight at hand and see many tributes already dead.
Ace is clutching his arm while still holding his mace as he starts to climb over the edge. I run over to kick him off but he's too far down but the time I reach him. He looks up at me crying and shouts.
"He's going to kill you. He's demented." Clearly meaning Pox. I turn around to see Pox hacking away at what once was Ella's body. She's unrecognizable aside from her small frame.
He leaves her alone and chases after another tribute trying to escape but I stare at her. That tiny innocent little girl. She didn't ask for this. God knows that she never really stood a chance. Pox and Ace are both twice her size. It's not fair.
Eventually Pox snaps me out of my trance by shaking me.
"We're alive!" He grins. His whole body is covered in blood, and that's not an understatement. His teeth and eyes are the only things not covered in the red liquid. "I only got 3, hit Ace in the arm pretty good but he escaped."
"Nice." I say more out of obligation than anything else. I'm interrupted by the string of canons that follow the bloodbath. Fifteen in all. A new record I think. And I was a part of it.
"We could just stay here. Throw the bodies off the edge then no one would think of fucking with us."
That's exactly what we did. And that night with the wind howling all around us the faces of fifteen dead innocents lit the sky. For some faces I'm grateful, both from District Two are dead, and the girl from Ten. For some faces, like Ella's or Eerie's my heart aches.
But at least I'm in the top 9.
Once it was the morning of day 3 after doing nothing at the cornucopia for so long we decided to explore, mostly for food and water. The arena is far more simple that I thought. Not a complex system of skyscrapers just one impressive building. The 4 elevators at the base of the climbing pillar each lead to a different floor, and only that one floor.
On one floor we found plenty of water containers, clearly used by multiple people. One corner of the room has blood stains and a brick. Someone had to improvise. Pox thought it best if we smashed every water container we couldn't carry with us. And so we did. Without thinking I hacked my axe into the side of barrel after barrel smashing them until the floor was wet and soaking into my shoes.
Another floor we found a maze of offices. If I was alone, this is where I would hide. We don't search very hard though and we find no one.
The next elevator took us to a big empty room with a weapon rank in the corner. It's been picked clean but the floor is just as bloody as the cornucopia. Anyone who was unlucky enough to flee into this room was met with nothing but the knife of the first person who got here. Clever, cruel game makers.
Lastly, a giant floor with multiple vending machines. Only The Capital would create food called 'Cheetos' and put them in machines and call it food for the Hunger Games. Most of them have been broken into the food looted. We loot the last 3 machines we could find, and what we couldn't carry we crushed.
"Oh shit." Once we climb back up the pillar we're immediately met by the pair from District Twelve. I can't remember their scores but they both have blood on them and are armed with pickaxes.
Pox charges at the boy without blinking, axe raised high. They clash metal on metal. More cautiously I approach the girl and swing at her. She jumps back and tries to hack at me. I block with the shaft of my axe though. We go back and forth a few times swinging, dodging, grunting, praying for an easy win.
My focus broken when Pox shouts at us for our attention. He's holding the boy by the throat, his toes barely clinging to the edge. "Put your pickaxe down." Her eyes start to tear up and she throws the pickaxe over the edge of the climbing pillar.
"Please don't!" She fights back sobs. "Please! I'll do anything." Pox looks at me and nods. I bite the inside of my cheek and quickly swing my axe into her forehead. The force knocks her from the edge. At the same time Pox pushes the kid off the edge. Be it from my axe or from the fall. She's my second kill.
"That was exciting!" Pox hollars. "Top seven baby!"
That night I sleep as far away from him as possible and cling to one thought that brings me hope and peace.
Only one more until I can kill you without feeling guilty.
The next morning two cannons go off almost back to back. We look at each other with apprehension. It's officially time for 'no strings attached'. Yet before we go to strike at each other an elevator dings, two actually. We climb down the pillar quickly. Out of one elevator comes Ace, his arm functioning at full capability it looks. Out of the other comes a girl, from District Six, whose name and face I just don't recognize.
"So this is it!" Pox says with a grandiose arm gesture. "Bring it on Ace!" Ace looks nervous and brushes his hair from his face. He takes a few tentative steps out, as does the girl from Six.
"Anella this is the one I told you about." The girl walks over and the two of them create a unified front against Pox. Instinctively I stand by his side. Two on two fight for the victory.
The four of us run at each other.
Pox spins around Ace and begins an assault on Anella who replies with a serrated knife.
"I'm sorry." Ace says as he swings his mace at me. I duck underneath it I lash out with my axe. He jumps backwards then rushes at me. He grabs my hair with his hand and then knees me in the nose. It cracks and blood starts rushing but I ignore the pain. I swing at him again but he blocks with his mace. He jabs the spiked ball at me but his arms aren't long enough to connect with my body. I swing down at the mace and knock it from his grip.
Ace steps backwards and puts his hand in the air. A shriek fills the air as Pox grabs Anella by the arm and cuts it clean off. He throws it from the skyscraper. She grabs her bloody stump and he kicks her in the stomach. She falls backwards off the edge and we listen to her scream until she falls so far we can't hear her over the howling winds. A cannon finally tells us she's dead.
Quickly I kick the mace off the ledge and Ace lowers his head in defeat. I turn to look at Pox but he's charging me. He throws his axe at me and the only reason it doesn't take my head off is because Ace tackles me out of the way.
"Stay alive Marney." He says breathless. Pox kicks him in the head and Ace rolls away clutching his skull. Pox kicks him one more time in the back of the head and he goes still.
"Now it's your turn Marn. Sorry, but I have a baby to get home to." I crawl backwards until I'm at the edge of the building. One more foot and I'd be in mid air. I would rather take an axe to the face as opposed to fall until my heart gives out.
"Tell Dom that I think I loved him." I swallow a lump in my throat and suddenly am at peace. I close my eyes awaiting the blow.
"I will." For the first time since we got on that train he sounds like himself. My friend and coworker who would defend any of us.
"Tell him yourself." Ace's weak voice reaches my ears. I open my eyes in time to watch him tackle Pox, the boys both go tumbling until they finally fall off. A scream ripples through the arena like no other noise I've ever heard. It shakes me to my core. A few tentative fingers still clutched to the edge of the building. Without thinking I grab my axe axe scrape at the person's fingers. Not wanting to know if I'm killing my district partner or the man who just saved my life.
Whichever one it is screams just as loudly as the first one. I curl into a ball and start sobbing. My heart aches to know. I crawl over to the ledge, maybe I can still see who I killed falling. I have to know!
However I don't see either Ace or Pox. Instead I see the girl from District Three hanging from a window by a very intricate system of ropes forming a hammock of sorts.
"Oh shit." She says making eye contact with me. "I thought they were the last ones." She starts fumbling with a bow and arrow. But I don't let her get an arrow off. I grab one of my smaller axes that I've almost forgotten about. Almost. I throw it at the ropes and sure enough they cut. She falls with a screech.
I fall back on the skyscraper and let myself cry until four cannons fire off in succession.
For Anella the girl with one arm. For Pox the boy who just wanted to provide for his child. For Ace who saved my life. And for a girl who's name I didn't even know.
It seems like a year before the claw finally rescues me.
"So Marney that was quite a show! The bloodiest start to a games yet AND the shortest Hunger Games to date! And you're the victor quite impressive wouldn't you say?" I nod along to him, but stare at my feet. The same surge of confidence this stage once gave me is now nothing but pain.
"On to the recap!" I bite my tongue as I watch myself on screen. With a smug grin I race to the pillar and climb up so quickly. My heart races as they zoom in on Eerie falling and then zoom in further on what's left of him. His face completely smashed. His once handsome face, now nothing but road kill. I want to vomit but I choke down the bile.
What amazes me is how blaize I am about Pox being certifiably psychotic. It's terrible how he hacked away at three people until they're dead and still managed to find time to maim Ace, who barely escaped!
The smart design of the elevators lead to another mini bloodbath in the weapons room and the water room. A total of 10 killed at the cornucopia and 5 killed between the two rooms. It's certainly deadly and awful, and some how I was ok with being a part of it. Surviving it.
I watch Ace get sponsored the heal salve he needs (apparently a Capital favorite to kill Pox) and the girl string herself up in the hammock. I find out her name is Margo. A few tributes die in random ways until the pair from Twelve sneak to the cornucopia while we're gone. As it turns out the girl was marrying his older brother, and I killed her. Someone says her name but I all hear is my heart thrumming in my ears.
Ace gets smart with the elevators and kills the two tributes by shoving them down the elevator well. As it turns out the main form of death is falling from very high places until your heart stops or you splatter. I can't imagine the sick fuck who thought of that.
Then the finale. I watch it all happen again, until Ace tackles Pox. I close my eyes as hard as I can and my blood pumps so deafeningly through my head I hear nothing. I don't want to know which I killed. I can't know. No matter which I killed they deserved to live more than I did. Pox has a child and Ace, Ace was just a decent human being. More than I'll ever be.
I open my eyes when the spotlights fall back on me a suffer through the rest of my interview.
District Seven really isn't the same. It didn't take much convincing for Dom and Royce to come live with my little brother, mom, and I. While I have no reason to, I still ration myself water like I had to at work. No one understands why. Including myself.
The interviews with The Capital get pretty monotonous. But, everyone loves talking to me. About fashion, about fighting skills, about how excited I am to mentor for 'generations to come'. I just nod and smile. One day I don't wear my blue contacts and Lucan seemed like he was flabberghasted. I wasn't the same girl because now my eyes were brown. To keep everyone happy I got surgery. They're permanently blue now.
One night I go to speak with Jayla at her shack. She had to move out of the house she and Pox shared. Money issues. I knock at the door and she opens. Her typically warm friendly face etched into a cold glower. Her eyes start to well up and before she speaks I slam the door shut.
I can't know if I killed Pox. I can't know if I killed little baby Frass's father. I try to walk away. I really do, but before I do I tell her one simple truth.
"If it was him. If it was Pox. I just want you to know." I take a deep breath as my eyes water. "Hearing him scream as he falls off the edge will never leave me."
Once word got around that I couldn't even face her I became a pariah of sorts. Royce quickly moved out and when I went to go speak with Oakland he wouldn't even look at him. I've just accepted that's the way things are.
Maybe it makes me a coward. But I sleep at night.
Three years after my victory Dom gets down on one knee and I agree to marry him. We share all sorts of kisses. To think, it all started because I got reaped.
It doesn't take long before I'm pregnant and the baby is on his way. Once he's born I tell Dom there's only one name I'll accept for my first born child.
If you compared my life to that of my fellow victors some would call it boring. Some would say that I opted for the easy route by never really dealing with what I did in the arena. Some would say that my child is doomed from the start and I'm being irrational trying to raise him without weapon training. To them I say fuck you.
I lay in my bed. The breathing apparatus hooked up to my canul keeping me alive. My liver has given out after all these years. I told my sweet son Ace to do me one final favor before it was too late. To bring me Frass.
She opens the door and sits down. Such a thin beautiful girl. She looks at me with resentment, but it's hard to hate a 70 year old women when he's so pathetically weak.
"Why'd you have Ace bring me here?" Her tone is harsh.
"I think after all these years I should finally know, and you should be the one to tell me." She goes to leave. "Please Frass." She turns to face me.
"I hate you." She says flatly. "But you didn't kill my father."
After hearing that sentence I closed my eyes so I could finally sleep forever, at peace.
and so ends the story of Marney Thompson, I hope you enjoyed