I walked through the fields of District 11 reflecting on life, as I usually did before the Reaping.
The sun rises high
The fox runs across the field
Today two will die
I gazed at the beauty around me, and wondered how Nature could tolerate human existence. It wasn't only the people of the Capitol who were guilty of the world's sad state of affairs; it was humanity as a whole. Why did the common people tolerate the Games? Why did the people of the districts meekly accept their servitude? People had rebelled against their governments for much less in the past.
The labourers from the fields were returning to their homes. They had been given the afternoon off to get ready for the Reaping.
"Oh look," said a man to his friend, glaring at me. "There's that kid from the Victor's Village. I bet he's not worried. He's never had to collect tesserae." If you put your name into the Reaping lots more than once you were given tokens called tesserae, which entitled you to extra rations. My uncle had won the Games once before, and had won enough riches to see us living in comfort until he died. Since the rest of my family had died, a brother and aunt to the Games, and my parents to a freak accident, I was all he had left. He had trained me for the Games as soon as I had learnt to walk. He told me that the Capitol rigged the lots, and that my uncle and brother's Reapings were no accident.
I walked slowly to the centre of the district; there was no need to rush. I never rushed. The square was filled with people exuding sorrow and a little bit of anger, an anger that would soon be replaced with weary resignation.
"Dawson," the Capitol woman shouted, holding up a chit from the vessel that contained the names of every youth in the district. A man ran to the stage but was quickly beaten down by the Peacekeepers, while the Dawson girl walked towards the Capitol woman. "Does anyone wish to volunteer to take her place?" the Capitol woman asked, not really expecting any reply from the cowed down people of District 11.
She shuffled the lots again, and picked the second tribute, the second child who would be forced to become a killer.
"Johnny Chou," she said. I was half expecting it, after my uncle's many warnings. I spotted his face amongst the crowd, looking at me with detachment. He would allow no feeling to show on his face. He never had. None of the crowd seemed as bothered with the announcement at my name as they had with the girl's. I had never had any friends, which was probably my own fault. I had neither felt the need for any, nor felt that it was worth the effort. I preferred lying on the grass, cocooned within my thoughts. At this moment, I suddenly wished that I had taken the effort; that I would have even one person who would mourn my passing.
The Capitol woman shook my hand, and congratulated me. Congratulated me! Did this woman have no feeling? Was she a plastic doll? She looked like one, with all her makeup, and her freakish hairstyle. It looked like some sort of pink rosebush, with golden flowers. It would have looked okay in blue.
"Happy Writers Games," she shouted, in her loud voice. "May the odds be ever in your favour."
The crowd cheered. They had no choice. Silence would be taken as a sign of dissent, and the Peacekeepers did not take kindly to signs of dissent. Was there a worse torture than cheering on your own people, who were being forced to meet their deaths for the entertainment of the Oppressor?
The Reapings are done
Twenty three people must die
Do I kill, or die?