Chapter Eighteen: Personal Questions
Word Count: 1498
Reluctantly leaving his seat beside Rory Silas cursed whatever gods were listening that now had to the be the time of his personal interview. Why couldn't it have been any other time! In five minutes...or an hour...Bugger! He raged to himself as he made his way over to the sofa. The camera's that floated across the room never let their glassy lenses off him as he walked, he was sure somewhere on Rory too. What was going to happen then? Would she have kissed him? If he'd had the courage to try...would...Ergh! He coughed in his brain. There was too many questions and what had happened, happened and he couldn't go back and change anything now. It was done. He'd had his shot and he'd blown it...Plastering a Roxanne Richie fake smile across his face Silas nodded to each of the five reporters who sat on individual stools across from the plush sofa. Two men and three women. That would help. Vigil's other job apart from making him look presentable on camera was to prep him for these kinds of interviews, he said women asked more personal, heartfelt questions which were easier to answer. Whereas men asked hard hitting, tricky questions he may have had to think about first before answering.
'Good evening.' Silas said with a smile, lowering himself into the sofa he felt the soft cushions take his weight and mould themselves around his shape.
'Good evening Mr Alberec,' said one of the women and the five reporters camera's kicked into life over their shoulders.
'Please call me Silas.' the red head reporter with black high heels giggled while the others smiled and nodded, the men didn't say a word. Hate the game not the players. Silas nearly said aloud but only just managed to stop himself.
'How are you finding this evening’s festivities?' asked the first of two brunette reporters.
'It has been a very pleasant evening thus far,' he smiled. 'The only down side with so many questions I've had to watch my drinking.' The reporters all smiled apart from the fifth, a squat man with rat like eyes and a ridiculous foppish comb over.
'Like a good drink do you laddie?'
'I like any drink,' he smiled at Rat Eyes. 'But certainly a good drink is better than a bad one. Don't you find the same?' the four laughed jovially at his witty response as Brunette Number One asked,
'How is training going?'
'Very well thank you. I've become reasonably competent with all the weapons we could be given, I've put on nearly three stone...I'm certainly not used to food after living in District Thirteen. So it's going well.' he smiled to the woman.
'The reason for your part in the Games is known already but just clarify it for us please.' said the other male reporter.
'I want to win so I can get my sister out of the District, she’s thirteen. And no matter what Government may tell you good people Thirteen is a Hell Zone filled with plague, gangs, death and famine. She can't grow up safely in a place like that. So I'm here to win and get her out so she can have a better life.'
'This is Eliza Alberec...correct?' asked Rat Eyes. Silas felt fear twitch through his chest. How does he know her name?
'That's right.' he said staring hard at Rat Eyes.
'Were your parents Julia and Tristan Alberec by any chance?' he asked, beady black eyes meeting Silas's heavy stare. Controlling the emotions that suddenly bubbled up in his chest Silas shifted in his seat.
'The notable Political Activists who nearly caused a Civil War in District Four?'
'You know the answer to that!' Silas barked at Rat Eyes.
'So they were criminals.' something broke inside Silas as he watched Rat Eyes type onto the data-slate in his hand.
'No...no Sir they were people who believed that all people should be treated as equals by their Government, not have the rich at the top and the poor starving at the bottom. And do you know what happened to them for their troubles? Make sure you write this down. Government put their eight year old son and one year old daughter in the District they were trying to humanise making them watch from the train station...and then my Mother and Father were executed via firing squad which was broadcast across every television in every District.' eyes stinging with tears Silas sat back into the sofa. Not realising he'd leant so far forward. The women reporters all looked on the verge of tears and even the other man looked shocked by his revelation. Silas looked over and saw dozens of eyes on the tables looking back at him.
'Moving on...' said Red Head with a weak smile to Silas which he tried to return.
'How are your relationships with your trainers and fellow competitor’s developing.' asked the man.
'Some far better than another’s...shall we say.' he said after attempting a laugh. It failed.
'What happens if you're killed?' asked Rat Eyes.
'What happens if you're killed in the Arena? Your baby sister will be forced to watch her brother die a horrific and bloody death beside her hopeful feature.'
'Damien!' Red Head hissed to the squat man beside her. Horror striking across her elegant features. For a second moment in his life Silas was stumped, he had no answer, failure had never been an option. Never even a remote possibility. What if he was killed? What is Eliza was stuck in Thirteen for the rest of her life? Tears growing back into his eyes Silas quickly whipped them away. And as he did he was certain, somewhere amongst the darkness he heard a giant 'Awww' strike up.
'That's not going to happen.' Silas finally choked.
'It might.' Rat Eyes finished before Brunette Number Two asked,
'We've seen a few people from District Thirteen with Dreadlocks similar to yours, is it some kind of tradition?'
Coughing to recover his voice and suppress his emotions Silas eventually said, 'Yes actually. It comes from fighting in the District, its way to make money by betting on yourself, when you beat somebody along with the winnings get the right to cut their defeated opponents hair.'
'Why's that?' asked the Man.
'Because many, including me, believe that all the power and strength a person has in his body is in his hair. So when you beat someone you cut their hair, showing that they've been defeated and that you now own their strength.'
'Your hair's really long.' said Red Head. Silas smiled.
'I was never beaten.' there was a quick pause.
'That sounds like Scalping to me!' Rat Eyes said with a sick smile. Silas's stomach did a flip and the four other reporters hissed at him. Scalping was the ultimate way to kill someone in Thirteen, the ultimate claim of their power. It was only done by the sickest individuals and Silas couldn't imagine anything worse.
'That's enough!' Red Head said ending the interview.
'Is there a special technique to Scalping boy? I've never quite understood how it’s done.' Silas stared at Rat Eyes. The other reporters had gone silent looking at him; the whole room seemed to have gone quiet.
'Imagine someone who hates you with the upmost intensity,' Silas rumbled rising from his seat. 'Someone filled with a ravenous hunger that drives a man to do evil things in order to survive,' crossing the gap between them Silas grabbed a heavy fistful of Rat Eyes hair in his hand making him squeal. 'Then imagine them dragging a rusty blade of a homemade knife around your scalp, slicing to the bone, severing the connective tissues of your flesh then finishing with a sharp jerk,' pulling on his hair Rat Eyes whimpered slightly as Silas loomed over him. 'To release any clinging particles that still might lay claim to your nervous-system. Picture that, and you might have some idea how it feels to be Scalped.' Pushing Rat Eyes away Silas turned to the other reporters.
'You can go Mr Alberec, thank you for your time and apologies for our colleague.'
'No apologies needed. Thank you and Good Evening.' making his way back to the table Silas tried to compose himself. He didn't need to ask about Eliza, he didn't need to ask about his parents, that Rat Eyed fool got what he deserved. Pulling himself from his thoughts as he reached his place he found Rory looking up at him with sympathetic azure eyes, and Aeon in his seat.
'This seats taken buddy.' smiled the umber haired boy. 'One up there's free though.' he finished with a triumphant grin pointing up the table. Silas looked up and saw Fox with a vacant seat at her side.
'Great...' he muttered. Grabbing his whisky from the table and walking up to join his partner. This night really couldn't get any worse.