"Ladies and gentlemen, let the Seventy-third Hunger Games begin!"
I am standing on a metal circle, miles away from my district, preparing myself for the task ahead. I have to kill them! I have to go out there, once the sixty seconds are over, and kill these complete strangers! But this is the Hunger Games, and the only rule is kill or be killed.
"Martin Crieff!" cries the escort, pulling his name out with a flourish. Martin steps out from the crowd. Ginger hair, not very tall, 14 years old, and expression of pure fear on his face. He steps forward, slowly approaching the stage and trying not to cry. He's going to his death and he knows it.
His mother watches with tears rolling down her face. Watches him slowly getting closer to the escort and further from everybody else. Too many tesserae, far too many. They shouldn't have done this, shouldn't have made Martin die just so they could eat more. They would've coped. And now they've sent their own son into the games, and he's going to die.
Of course, there's a chance he might not die in the Games, but then again, this is Martin Crieff we're talking about.
"Molly Hooper!" Nothing happened, for a second, then, for Molly Hooper, everything happened.
She took a tiny step forward, already feeling warm tears leave their tracks down her cheek. Oh god, I'm crying already. They're staring at me, just make them stop staring at me. Oh, now I've got to get up on that stage and watch Effie Trinket be insufferably cheery about forcing me to kill people and I need to get out of her, I can't do this, make them stop staring at me! She was up on the stage after a while, and then listened to Effie saying words that didn't matter about things that didn't matter. The only thing that mattered to Molly in that moment was that she was going to die.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity but was most likely a few seconds, the male tribute was called out. There was a moment of pure panic when she realised it could be her brother, or one of her friends, but then the escort announced, "Arthur Shappey!"
And nobody knew, or particularly cared, who he was.
That is, until he timidly stepped forward and a ripple of sound travelled through the spectators. Arthur Shappey. 12 years old. Just a child.
There's nobody to miss him. When he dies in the Hunger Games, no-one will care.
The tributes from the other districts were picked out. The two from District 1 looked so alike that they could be brother and sister, the boy and girl from District 2 looked as though they'd kill everyone in the arena before anyone could even attempt to get to the Cornucopia, there was a boy in District 3 who looked like he honestly couldn't care less that he'd been picked as tribute, and all the rest of them were just as threatening, if not more, somehow, than the Careers.
On the way to the Capitol, most of the tributes cried. The others forced themselves not to; they didn't want to be thought of as weak. Either that or they'd already run out of tears.
The girl from District 12, Molly, cried silently for the majority of the trip. Arthur tried – and failed – to cheer her up.
"You'll be okay," he said. "I'm sure you'll do brilliantly; you look like you're really clever! Dad said that clever people usually do really well!" so I'll have no chance, he added silently.
"But it's horrible! Making us fight each other! Don't you just hate the Capitol?" she asked.
"Well, I don't exactly-"
"No, no y-you're right, I really shouldn't have said that..." she muttered, fiddling with the button on her trousers and mentally admonishing herself for saying anything at all, let alone something like that.
"But they can't hear us in here so we can say anything, unless they're watching us – like spies!" Arthur said with a little too much enthusiasm for someone who suspects they're being spied on, and Molly couldn't help but let out a laugh.
Martin Crieff sat in the bedroom of his chamber on the train to the Capitol, and cried. He just wanted to get off the train, to run home, to get out of there. But he couldn't. He curled up in a ball on the bed and cried his eyes out, finding it impossible to enjoy the luxuries of the train while knowing what was to come. Still, he'd have to have supper with his escort, mentor and the other tribute soon, so he decided he ought to dress in something that would make him look at least a little bit more impressive; he'd seen the kind of things they wore in the Capitol.
There was a knock on the door, followed by a "Hello?" Must be his mentor fetching him for supper. Reluctantly he opened the door, after drying his eyes on the sleeve of his shirt.
"Yes?" he says looking up.
"What's your name?" Arthur asks the girl. He did already hear their escort announce it at the Reaping, but he'd forgotten already.
"Molly. Molly Hooper," she replies.
"That's a brilliant name!" She blushed, then smiled, then wondered why she's letting this happen; she can't get too close to him, they're going into the Hunger Games and he could die. She could die. And that was exactly what she was trying to avoid thinking about and exactly why she was crying a minute ago and exactly why she started crying yet again. Arthur awkwardly put an arm around her shoulder. There was a knock on the door.
"Molly? Supper is ready!" cries Effie Trinket through the door. Arthur already liked Effie, and Molly assumed it was because of their shared optimism and slightly annoying, at times, cheeriness. She's right, although he'll make friends with anyone if they stick around for longer than five seconds.