listen guys I'm sorry that this is super late. I know that I've been so shitty about updating and such. I've been going through a lot right now, my mother had another heart attack and it's really has prevented me from getting anything done. Last week I had this rape advocacy training for one of my internships and that has really taken a lot out of me. Then of course the whole Orlando thing, I've been petrified ever since, I'm a gay guy and this weekend is pride in my home city and it's all just been a lot recently. I'm not asking for pity, merely understanding.
this story will go on. I can't promise when but it will.
Theophilus "Theo" Larch - District Twelve Male
The sliding doors open with a swoosh and the noise of a few people chatting catches my attention. It's one thing to see the pictures of The Capital I've seen on the holovision, it's another entirely to actually be here. Giant buildings with glimmering windows and people dressed in colors I didn't know existed. Such vibrant yellows and greens that aren't the color of trees. It's dreamlike.
"Move you little shits." Haymitch bumps into both myself and Ivy pushing us out the train cart. He's not the nicest of people, kind of rude actually. I think he's been drinking too much.
"You could say please you know." I say trying to sound bossy. One of the people waiting outside the train starts laughing hysterically.
"This is too rich! A 12 year old mouthing off the Haymitch Abernathy." The rest of the small crowd joins him laughing. Though I don't truly understand why I join in the laughter as well, better to be a part of something than left out right? "Get over here kid." I obey with a smile.
"Hi!" They collectively get a camera ready and a microphone.
"Tell us who you are and what you're all about kid." I ponder the questions for a moment before answering.
"I'm Theo Larch. My dad is a carpenter for the big wigs in District Twelve, he actually met Haymitch before I did. But dad says they're all 'giant pricks'. But I'm not sure what that means exactly." I shrug. They all keep laughing with me.
"Tell us more. You excited for the Hunger Games?"
"I have a brother who is 18. I think he was going to try and volunteer for me, but that's not fair to him because obviously I was picked. I guess I'm excited. I'm a pretty competitive guy, I think I have a really good chance." That makes them really bust out laughing, I join in again feeling uncomfortable for not understanding why. Ivy grabs my wrists and tugs on it.
"Come on, they're making fun of you. Plus we have to go." She tugs me a little harder and I fall over. The camera follows me to the floor and everyone keeps laughing at me. My lower lip begins to tremble and I'm feeling very embarrassed instantly. I stand up without anyone's help and lean into the microphone.
"You guys are mean." I say strongly and start walk away from them following Haymitch's stumble and our escort, Liberty. We get into a building and Liberty immediately starts talking extremely quickly.
"Listen you two." She points back and forth at me and Ivy. "I'm a professional woman trying to make something of my life and you two aren't going to ruin it for me. Understood." We both stare at her nodding slightly. "Good. You're probably not going to like the next few hours of your life, but I don't care. When the prep teams and stylists start digging their claws into you let it happen, smile, don't complain, and for the love of God Theo. Keep your mouth shut. If you don't want to die you need to stop embarrassing yourself like you did in front of those cameraman." Haymitch chimes in with the smell of vodka still strong on his breath.
"Yeah kid. There's a reason no one takes you seriously. It's that big mouth of yours." He pulls a flask from his pocket and takes a swig. "And this bushy hair cut. Hopefully someone does something to that." He leans on Liberty. "Amiright?" He slurs.
"Get off me you trash bag." She pushes him off her and into the wall. "You two," Her attention is back on us. "Theo you're first door on the left, Ivy on the right. Don't mess this up." She starts walking away but I hear her mumble. "These kids are so boned." I'm not sure what that means, but it doesn't sound good. I don't want my bones removed from me.
Ivy leaves for her door and I obey Liberty's instructions and leave for my door. Just within a trio of people dressed in shiny colors start talking hastily.
"I know. God look at his nails." One grabs my hand and stares at my fingers.
"And all this dirt!" Another shrieks.
"We have our work cut for us." The one who appears to be the boss huddles them up and they whisper in harsh tones faster and quieter than I can understand. One thing is clear though, they don't seem too pleased.
"It's Theo right?" I nod. "Well, lay on the table and take your shirt and shorts off.
"No." I say impulsively. "I just met you people, I don't want to be naked in front of you." I tell them honestly. This causes one of them to take a deep breath and sigh loudly.
"Listen kid we don't care what you want. Get on the damn table and take off those ratty clothes. We need to get you ready for your costume and that means scrubbing your dirt encrusted body clean. Got it?" The leader says with a sharp tone.
"No! You're being a bully and this is stupid! I want to go home." I blurt out. I don't want to be here with a bunch of strangers who clearly don't have my best interests at heart. They're being straight up rude.
"Kid you're in for a world of trouble if this is that part of the Hunger Games that makes you wish you were home. Just wait until one of those 18 year olds is slowly cutting you in half or you've been without water for 3 days and the sun finally bakes you to death. Then tell me you want to go home. Now get on the table and get naked." Tears run down my cheeks and I obey out of fear.
What did I get myself into?
Simon Chen - District Three Male
I would be lying if I said that I wasn't enjoying every minute of this. My stylists, though not the most intelligent people, are generally agreeable and make for easy lighthearted conversation. And honestly, it's kind of nice to be pampered. Life was never easy, not by a long shot, but at the same time things were never difficult. District Three lives in this constant pull of being loved by the Capital for what our scientists are able to create, but still oppressed by sheer virtue of our name District Three.
"So aren't you just thrilled to meet Zap?" One of my stylists asks me waking me from my daydream. I answer politely with a kind smile.
"Oh yeah. I'm super excited." I leave off the facts that I really don't care and that I'm not particularly familiar with fashion, be it here or back home. Who has time for such a superfluous thing when you could be learning a real trade or making something.
"Well here he is!" The prep crew exits as a man wearing a silver suit walks in. With each step he glistens like dew collecting on the plants we always kept on our window sill. The sparkles are all consuming yet tasteful and elegant. It's really quite the balance.
"So you're the man of the Games. Simon Chen, victor of the Hunger Games. Doesn't that have a nice ring to it kid?" He smils to me with a million dollar shine on his teeth.
"You damn right it does." I can't help but smile back. He's got a strong voice, and with the outfit he certainly dominates the room. I'm sure that's how all his entrances are like.
"Good. Then let's make it happen alright?" He's got a slight Capitol accent, but for the most part his tone is strong but even and non-confrontational, something I greatly appreciate. "I've got big plans for you kid." He pulls a rack of clothes from outside into the room and closes the door. "What's your waist size?"
"Um." I grab the clipboard with all my body measurements on it that my prep team took. "It's 29 inches."
"Not the biggest of guys, are we." He says chuckling to himself. "I assume you've seen the reapings?" He glances my way and I nod vigorously. "Well, you're not going to impress anyone with your muscles especially after those two delicious boys from District 1 and 2. Those two have biceps that could literally crush your skull." I visualize one of them wrapping their arms around my neck and doing just that. Not something I intend to let happen.
"So what's the plan?" I ask tentatively. He's right. I'm not exactly good looking, and I'm certainly not in the stronger half of this year's tributes.
"The plan is an amazing outfit and lots of makeup." I think briefly about how I'm tied for second youngest guy, and of the two 15 year olds I'm not the one related to Finnick Odair. Do I even have a real shot at this? Independent of what this stylist does? I look at the palms of my hands wishing for an answer or an escape and find neither.
This whole time Zap has been talking a mile a minute but the words just haven't been reaching me. I focus in and catch the last part of a sentence. "...much do you trust me?"
"Do whatever you think is best?" I say reactionarily.
"I was hoping you would say that." He smiles devilishly. "How out of the box are you willing to be?"
This question takes me aback. Am I out of the box? No. I'm your typical quiet kid from District Three. I was going to work in my father's computer squad until he died and then take over the small business myself. I'm as hard working as one can expect a 15 year old to me. I can barely answer phone calls, but am still aware that by virtue of having a phone I'm doing way better than most people.
Yet, at the same time I'm still just a pawn in a game. Quite literally now. Hunger Games. The title wasn't missed on my I understand games. Chess and scrabble and how many different card games have I learned and mastered.
How you ask? Simple.
Every game begins with an aggressive start, and steady middle game as your wait for your opponents to make mistakes and weed each other, and lastly a decisive well timed strike. A single move can cost you an entire game of chess, and that move is sometimes the first move.
I apply the logic here.
"I'm willing to do whatever it takes." I say unwavering.
"Perfect, tell me Simon. What size wig do you think you'll be able to handle. He unzips a large garment bag and pulls out a small silver dress with a black design on it.
A lump forms in my throat that I force down. This wasn't what I had in mind. But it will certainly make a splash.
Princeton Kingley - District Two Male
"This is fucking perfect." I say to my stylist, Chaz. Aside from an incredibly small, almost see through, man thong all I'm wearing is a pair of suspenders, a pair of cufflinks, and a bowtie. I look like a model straight out of a classy waiter style porno. I'm here for this.
"You certainly look like a meathead." Duchess says rolling her eyes. She's more traditionally dressed for District Two, a stonemason. It's not a great look, and her attitude is showing.
"You look like a bitch, so who's really at a disadvantage?" I question giving her a side eye. Such negativity. "At least fake a smile, we're about to meet our allies." We walk into a large room pungent with the smell of horse shit and hair spray. Unpleasant to say the least. I immediately spot the sexy piece of meat from District One and his admittedly beautiful District partner. I stride over to them with a winning and give her a firm handshake.
"Nigella Von Trice, nice to meet you." She says with a small smile.
"I'm Princeton, you as well. This is my district partner Duchess." Chess smiles politely and bows to them all ladylike and proper.
"It's a pleasure." She says sounding less venomous than usual.
"Call me Welton." He shakes my hand a little too strong. Someone is trying to establish dominance here, how typical. "I don't mean to get down to business right away."
"But you're going to anyway." I say with a smirk.
"You guys in or out of the alliance?" Nigella interjects. Such a feisty one, a little tactless but obviously willing to play the game. She's a manipulator and ready to fight. I can tell.
"We're in." Duchess says without skipping a beat. "No question that this year one of us wins." She declares sounding slightly narcissistic, but not wrong.
"Couldn't agree more." The girl from Four throws an arm around both me and Chess. "I'm Dawn, count me in." She has a big friendly smile, I immediately like her.
"Me as well." Stephen comes up behind her and waves at everyone. He looks so young, and compared to Welton, myself, and Dawn who is a well build strong woman, he looks even younger. Though obviously attractive. There's some amazing genes in the Odair-Bouchard family. "Call me-" Nigella cuts him off.
"We know who you are Stephen. Unlike you our cousins didn't win the last Hunger Games." Ah yes, Nigella is absolutely tactless. Abrasive, upfront, and cutthroat no doubt, but tactless. I like it.
"Guess I can't hide from that detail." He rubs the back of his head and I glance around the circle. Both Chess and Nigella are staring daggers at this poor boy. Welton has his arms crossed with a stern almost resentful expression. Dawn, his own district partner, tries to stare off into the distance like she's daydreaming. Probably about the ocean, again so typical. Almost feel bad for the kid.
"Little bigger than a detail don't you think?" Nigella challenges. He shrugs.
"Look, I'm glad to be here just like all of you and ready to fight. So I was reaped a few years before I would have volunteered, big deal. I'm here now." He almost sounds convincing. His answer seems to satiate Nigella though. It's Chess who breaks the silence.
"Are you my alliance or not." She stares directly at the younger boy who does nothing but nod his head yes.
"Your alliance?" Nigella says hastily. "When did we agree on that. I don't remember a vote or asking you to be the leader." I immediately come to her defense, we have to look strong together, even if she'll probably try to kill me the first time I go to sleep. Right now we make a statement to all the careers that we're not fucking around.
"I don't remember asking for your shitty opinion." I smile at her condescendingly and pinch her cheek. "We can either have Chess as a leader, or we can literally kill each other about it. Or, more likely than not we can do both here in a few days." Nigella looks at me and raises an eyebrow. I think it's respect I see fall across her face, or maybe she's just plotting to kill me too. But when Welton doesn't come to her defense and no one objects I lay the subject to rest.
"Excellent." Duchess says with a smile. "When training starts I think we can all agree we have to stick together and intimidate the other tributes. We don't know which of them will try to rival us yet, but we can't let them see us as weak." As she speaks she looks us up and down like cattle. It's amusing, watching her powertrip.
"Agreed." Dawn says with a nod. "At what number of tributes does this alliance last to?" I fight the urge to crack a joke about how with this chemistry we'll be lucky if we don't turn on each other day one.
"Top 6?" Chess asks the group. Stephen and Dawn both say yes immediately. I shrug without caring. I know they'll try to kill me before that. Nigella pops out a hip and stares at the ceiling like she's actually able to think befor before agreeing and Welton, smooth as marble, nods his head the smallest about possible to the naked eye.
Wonderful. I have an alliance of ass holes, back stabbers, and Dawn. This can't possibly go wrong.
Ryder Hall - District Ten Male
"Everyone get in your chariots and get ready to go!" A woman screams over the loud cacophony of noises in the room. Stylists primping their tribute with last minute glitter and costume adjustments, the careers boisterously talking about a leader, horses neighing loudly as their bridles get attached, or in my case the sound of my foot restlessly tapping against one of the wheels of my chariot.
"Don't worry girl it'll be over soon enough." I rub the horse's neck as the reigns get tightened and thrown into the chariot. Honestly, I've always felt more comfortable around animals than people. Horses and cattle especially. They're not going to try and stab you in the back, they like to listen and enjoy silence, and most of all they're not going to try and kill issue is that there's no cattle here, they're all back home.
"Snap out of it mister." Elsabeth, my friendly and extremely naive district partner nudges me gently. "It's time to move." I shake my head and refocus on everything. The District One chariot is already trotting down the concourse. An eruption of applause and screaming echoes through the room. Honestly it's jarring, I'm a simple herder from District Ten. This isn't want I'm normally used to. I watch as the boy from District Two starts strutting and flexing as his stone lined chariot begins it's trek.
"Yeah. I guess it is." I glance down at my extremely cliche cowboy outfit and then at Elsabeth's also extremely cliche cowgirl outfit and groan. I tell myself that it's still better than the boy from District Three, who is in fact a boy dressed as a woman. He's super thin and the only reason I can tell him from his district partner is because she obviously has hair and he's obviously in a giant wig. Props to him, he's easily the most memorable as his chariot enters the fray.
Both of the District Three's look uncomfortable but for different reasons. Him for being dressed like a drag queen and her for, well I don't know why she looks so damn salty. It could be the general hatred of the Hunger Games or maybe she has stage fright. Either way, she isn't winning anyone over the way that he is.
When the Odair cousin and his beautiful district partner go through the arch and out onto the walkway they're also met with a loud jeer. I can hear the dude name being screamed loudly. "Stephen!" "Stephen Bouchard!" They tell with such vigor that I could throw up. I hate him. I hate him already. He's got such an unfair advantage by sheer virtue of his name.
If there's one person that I already want to die it's him.
Some people probably have serious morality issues already wishing death upon someone. The way I see it though, is that this game, which is exactly what they call it, is just their way of herding cattle.
Sure, it'd be easier to take all 24 cows and slit their throats, bleed them, butcher them, and so forth. But this isn't about being easy is it? This is about making a huge ordeal about them having power. Proving they have power. All over a stupid war that happened so long ago. No one alive right now went through the Dark Days. We're still fighting the wars of other people.
Not that people have ever thought for themselves.
The pairs from Districts 5 and 6 aren't met with much enthusiasm sporting underwhelming outfits and lackluster 'performances'. They all try to look comfortable, smile a little bit, and look like they're not miserable. But the look on their faces are palpably angered. The girl from 6 looks pissed even through her smile.
The pair from District Seven both look strong, just like in their reapings. The boy is intimidating and the girl is undeniably strong. They'd make good allies. Though they face away from each other adamantly. They might not be interested in allying with each other. Or maybe I'm being paranoid and suspicious looking into something that's really nothing.
Both from Eight look comfortable and the girl looks genuinely friendly, she won't last a day. My heart jolts as our chariot starts trotting down the runway on the heels of the pair from District Nine. I ignore them and hold onto the side of my chariot as my heartbeat quickens. Did I mention that I mostly hate people and try to shy away from them?
Elsabeth starts smiling and waving enthusiastically, looking friendly and earning lots of applause. I try to set my jaw and stare straight ahead. I go to a place in my head where the screams and lights can't find me. The whole ordeal is unknown to me as we travel down the concourse. Eventually we get herded into a circle surrounding the President upon a huge stone pedestal. He glowers down at us with snake like eyes and a blood red smile. He's the type of man you wouldn't join in the elevator, you'd just take the stares.
I exhale a breath I didn't know I was holding and let the games begin.
Mara Werth - District Five Male
I think scared doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of emotions currently swirling in my stomach. Terror. Adrenaline. Fear. Vitality. Anger. Honestly, a little excitement. Not excited to kill people, obviously. But it's hard to not feel some of the crowd's energy and thrill. Maybe that makes me a bad person, maybe it means I can't help but sympathize with literally thousands of people cheering.
District Eleven finally joins the circle as does District Twelve. Twelve doesn't merit much of a reaction. However the pair from Eleven both look competent, even if the crowd didn't react to them the same way I am. I don't know what it is, the feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I trust it when it says that those two would make good allies. The boy looks especially strong, I think his name is Sirco.
I struggle to breathe as we just sit here. I've always been self conscious. I don't like people staring at me. From my experience when people are staring people are judging, and people who are judging are ruthless and don't care who you are or what you've been through. Which is exactly what school was like and exactly what this bullshit chariot thing has been. I force my lung to take their time as the president raises his hand causing the masses to silent.
"Welcome tributes." President Snow glowers down on us before looking out onto the masses with a thin smile. "We welcome you today to our home."
"What a fucking joke." Rai whispers under his breath.
"Shut up." I say quickly. I don't trust him, nor do I like him. Much like everyone else from District Five I've heard the stories about him, his father, and all the crazy things that he's apparently had to gone through. But I don't care about that. He's impulsive and too sensitive for my taste. I like people who have a tougher skin on them.
"It is with much honor that we've prepared our city for all of you. We praise your dedication to this country and you will be sung about for years to come for your willingness to sacrifice for everyone before you."
Without realizing I've dug my nails into the palm of my hand. The pain keeps me focused on listening to every single word. Wattson gave me slew of advice but the piece that sticks out the most was when heh told me that information and attention are keys to victory. I don't believe a single word that he says but he's important. He's the most powerful man alive. I look up at him with daggers wishing that I could kill him by sheer power of will. Alas, he keeps talking.
"As always, may the odds be ever in your favor." The crowd erupts in a powerful roar. It jars my body and intimidates me. I'm supposed to be able win these games right? Or at least I'm supposed to believe I can. Yet, I'm being scared by a screaming group of adults? My nails dig even harder into my palm. I hate this.
Despite how slowly as we arrive we're dragged back away quickly once the President finished. We zoom past the crowds with a canter. Roses get thrown. Names get screamed, none of which were mine. And the careers dominate. As we go I strain my ears to hear other names. Who else are people rooting for? Through the chorus of 'Stephen' and 'Welton' I hear a name I know doesn't belong to a career, Connor. I make a note to pounce on him the first chance I get.
Finally, after being forced to re-experience the trauma of the chariots we are back. I'm jump off my chariot quickly leaving Rai standin there with a thumb up his butt and dumb look on his face. I dig through my memory and I think Connor is the boy from 7. He looks strong, has a good jawline, and his shoulders are as wide as 2 of my practically.
He bickers with his District partner as I approach. I tamp down my impulse to walk away and to avoid people. I don't have the luxury of being shy anymore. I bite the inside of my cheek, that's one habit I never grew out of once I stopped cutting. It's just a way to remind myself that this is real, pain is real. Connor is a real chance for an ally.
"Fuck you Juniper."
"Well fuck you too Connor. Not like I actually want your fucking help." She flips her hair, naturally it has tree branches in it, and walks away to her mentor. Connor steps off angrily directly in my face.
"Who are you?" He says with eyebrows clenched together and small scowl on his face.
"Mara Werth, and you are?" I ask full well knowing who he is.
"Do you really wanna do this right now? Do I look stupid to you?" He asks incredulous.
"Well you don't look smart that's for sure. And frankly I don't know why you're angry at me because Juniper is being a bitch? Yes, that makes perfect sense." I say instinctively rolling my eyes. Connor narrows his at me.
"You're kind of a bitch you know that." I scoff at him, though he's smiling.
"You're especially observant." Sweat starts to bead on my brow and my costume feels heavy. I remind myself: no more being self conscious. "I was actually wondering if you need allies." The words bust out. His eyes narrow again and he stares at me silently. Not like I'm an animal, but like I'm a person.
"We'll see." He walks away.
That wasn't a no right? I'll take it.
Ivy Dao - District Twelve Female
All these people are insufferable.
Every, single, last tribute I've seen has been some type of awful. And that's just from what I can tell from looking at them. I'm smart enough to know that I need people on my side in order to win these games. But for the love of God, I just want to scream at some of them.
From my chariot I watch as the boy from seven walks away from the girl form five. He's got a smirk, and she looks like her heart is beating out of her chest. Two people playing a game within the Hunger Games. While I'm a fan of being feisty and aggressive I don't want allies who play passive aggressive and hard-to-get. Begrudgingly, I cross Connor O'Malley off my list of of plausible allies. Leaving only Welton, Sirco, Princeton, Ryder, Calico, Dawn, and Juniper on my list of acceptable allies. They're strong physically, and I'm sure at least a few of them easy to manipulate.
I steel myself and exit my chariot leaving a tearful Theo standing alone in the coal wrought chariot. Welton, the boy from District One is standing on the outskirts of the career pack with his arms crossed and a eye roll just waiting to happen. With a straight face I approach him. His skepticism is palpable.
"Hello?" He says flat.
"Hi." I tucking my hands behind my back.
"Can I help you?" I says looking over my head at who knows what.
"Well it's extremely easy to notice that you're not exactly engaging in your current alliance." By this point in time Princeton Kingsley seems to notice my presence and struts over in his barely existent costume. There's no doubt that between his abs, biceps, smile, and what I can only assume is years of weapons training he's the favorite.
"The fuck are you?" He says with a giant smile.
"Ivy Dao, District Twelve." I say indignant by how dismissive he sounds.
"Oh, that's right. You're that one girl who is coming last place?" Princeton says again with an award winning smile. You could almost forget how crude his words are.
A lump forms in my throat and I fight the impulse to try and claw out his perfect blue eyes. I know how bullies work in gang mentality. They try to intimidate you and scare you into submission. The only way to earn their respect is to stand up to them and force them to take your seriously That's what I have to do.
"No actually, I'm the future victor of the Hunger Games. Who are you? The annual muscle-bound clown? The strong guy who gets backstabbed right after the bloodbath? That you?" He starts laughing hysterically with his arms on his hips and the remaining careers flock to his sides. A pair of scrawny girls, one tan girl with meat on her bones, and the stupid O'dair kid. They all glower at me ruthlessly.
"You wanna play Ivy?" Princeton gets obnoxiously close to me. He's at least a foot taller and maybe double my weight. I stare directly into his chest until he lowers his face to eye level with me.
"Not much of a game if you're the other player." My heart continues to beat and I feel the eyes of so many beating down on me. I'm the center of attention, and I love it. I operate best when people are watching, it keeps you sharp and makes you stronger.
"Ah!" Princeton barks at my face. I jump backwards and hold my fists up to defend myself, but instead I just find them all laughing at me.
All of them except Welton who holds a stoic look.
"I think we all know that it's long overdue for you to leave." Nigella says matching Princeton's perfect smile.
"I think that I never asked for your opinion." I snap back.
"Well at least we know that when we kill you, you'll be feisty about it." Nigella continues. "Now, fucking leave." More laughter, more sneers. But still a blank emotionless stare from Welton. Though I don't want to, my body turns around and I leave the careers there. Laughing at me, feeling victorious over the tiny girl from District Twelve.
But I know that Welton is impressed with me. He was the target and he got my message. This was the first real step towards victory, and it went well. Even if they didn't think so.
I will win this. They will regret fucking with me.
lastly, I want to apologize the Ivy Dao part of the chapter, it's a little shorter than I allot for these first points of view. I've been struggling to write and figure it's better to cut one section a little short than to spend another week trying to re-write it.
please tell me what you think of the chapter, I would really appreciate a little feedback or encouragement in general. this is a priority in my life and as always the story will go on.
also... I didn't really 'proofread' this chapter as thoroughly as normal, so I'm so sorry if there's a lot of errors.