It was all a huge blaze-fire. Smoke darkening the sky, a woman laying me in a small space between the rubble of what used to be a home in District… 12? She drew an arrow and fired it at oncoming soldiers. She faintly heard a scream, turned away, and was shot down by another round of fire…
I suddenly awoke, sweating, in the early dawn of the day. The day of the reaping. And for the third year in a row, I was up for it. I’m Alice Catarek, fourteen years old, resident of District 7. I live with my godparents. I say godparents because 13 years ago, there were no Hunger Games. Katniss and Peeta Mellark, two beings shrouded in mystery, but names familiar to everyone, had stopped them for quite a while- fifteen years, to be exact.
But after fifteen years, the Capitol struck back, and took back the districts. Nobody knows what happened to the Mellarks, some say they died in a cease fire in their district, District 12. If only I knew what they looked like…
Anyways, after the Capitol regained control, they rounded up district survivors and distributed them amongst the districts to repopulate. In the thirteen years that have passed since this event, the districts are slowly recovering.
I sit up in my bed and walk out to the window of my room, allowing me to see the inner realms of District 7. Peacekeepers prowling the night, more so than any other night, to watch and see if any district children tried to make a run for it. It would’ve been immensely hard to do so, though, as the thick woodland surrounding District 7 isn’t easy to get through. The peacekeepers could easily catch any helpless, untrained twelve year old.
I pace around my room for the next couple of hours before my Godfather, Glow, knocks on my door. “Alice, it’s time.”
Glow comes from District 1; he was old enough back then to actually remember where he was from; what he had done. He lost his sister to the Hunger Games a few years back. “Coming…” I say while yawning, to make it seem like I had just woken up. I take my time walking down the stairs and into the kitchen where Glow and my Godmother, Magi, also from District 1, had set up a plate of bacon and eggs for me to eat.
I sat down at the table quietly, not wanting to talk, as usual. They knew about my dreams of the cease fire. They feel helpless about it, too, since the Capitol never told them where I was from, either. It’s normal for them to leave me alone on Reaping Day.
It seems all too soon that I’m done with breakfast and Glow breaks out the pearl white dress from the attic.
“I hate that dress…” I mumble. Glow nods.
“I know,” he continues nodding. “I know.”
I grab the dreadful dress and head back up to my room to dress. It’s a basic dress, pearl necklace included. I tie my hair into a pony tail, though it looks much better braided. The Capitol practically made braiding your hair for any event illegal, since it was the signature hairstyle of Katniss Mellark.
I finish dressing and somehow manage to walk down stairs in my high tops. I hate them; how can normal people walk in then normally? I see Glow in his tuxedo and Magi in her old wedding dress. I join them at the door and we head out to the square full of people. “It almost makes the reaping seem joyous.” Magi states.
“Don’t count on it,” I say before two peacekeepers stop us at the square’s entrance. Glow and Magi nod at them and they each grip one of my arms, escorting me to the fourteen year old female section. Only four others girls are in it.
Glow and Magi join the crowd of people too young or too old to be reaped just as our escort, Javius Clearbet, walks up to the podium.
“What a fascinating day for yet another Hunger Games cycle to begin!” Javius exclaims. I tune him out for the rest of his speech until he begins what everyone is dreadfully anticipating. “Now, to switch things up, we’ll choose the male tribute first!”
Javius takes his time in the reaping ball until he snatches a slip of paper and slowly unfolds it. He reads, “Franco Demiross.”
A movement catches my eye and I drift my gaze over to the eighteen year old male section. A large dark-skinned boy is making his way to the stage, showing no emotion; no fear.
It was obvious to all where this kid really belonged; District 11. Franco belonged in District 11.
“Welcome to the Hunger Games, Franco!” Javius joyfully welcomes Franco. After a brief pause, he walks over to the females’ reaping ball. “Now for our lady!”
Javius reachesinto the girls’ reaping ball, taking his time as usual. He plucks out another name and read it just the same. “Alice Catarek.” Eh, as long as it’s not- wait. It IS me. I AM in the Hunger Games. My skin went pale as I froze and a scene played back in my head.
It was a man standing with the silhouette of the girl from my dream from this morning. I didn’t recognize the man, but he walked to the door to some noise I must not have been able to hear. Before I can see what he opening the door to, I snap back to reality. I’m being dragged up to the stage by two peacekeepers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Franco Demiross and Alice Catarek, your District 7 tributes!” Javius exclaims. Trumpet fanfare plays and the crowd gives a half-hearted applause. I look to the back of the pack to see Glow and Magi, their faces mirroring the same shock that I had yet to recognize.
And that was that. The last I saw of anyone before Javius wisked me and Franco into a train headed for the capitol.
They used to permit visits to the tributes before they were taken away, but of course, the capitol found some way to eliminate that from the process as well. Probably some bogus reason related to the Mellarks.
It’s just me and Franco in the train car. I feel defenseless. Not only am I going to the capitol in a stupid dress, I’m completely untrained. I’ll easily die at the Cornucopia unless I pull off some miracle.
Franco, however, wasn’t as quick as me to give up. He just kept looking out the window and repeating, over and over again, “I’ll be back, I’ll be back.”
And if he’s going to do that, that means he’ll have no problem killing me in the arena. Yep, I’m as good as gone.