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The Second Quarter Quell: Haymitch Abernathy
Author's note: Unlike the previous "Hunger Games" fan-fiction I entered,this one was done alone. I had written this once before and I read it and was like "Wow. This sucks." So I completely redid it with a new flare. I was inspired to write this after seeing a video on youtube someone made about the Second Quarter Quell that was absolutely fantastic! If you have the opportunity to watch it, I'd recommend it! :) Enjoy!
I sit up in my bed, debating whether or not to sign up for more tesserae and risk entering my name for the Hunger Games. Reaping is tomorrow and I know that something will happen to change the way we look at the Games forever. I’m lucky enough to not have been Reaped at 16, but that doesn’t mean that the odds are in my favor. I want to provide for my family, but I don’t want to go into the Games. I have too much to lose. First, is my family. My mother and 11 year old brother mean the world to me. I mean, I have been the primary supporter since my father left us when I was 10. My father revealed that he was having an affair with a visiting Capitol woman and he left us and is now living a life of luxury with his new wife and my half-brother, Seneca. I asked to change my last name from Crane to Abernathy, my mother’s maiden name. My father was no longer a part of my life and I wanted no part of him, thus the changing of my name. I vowed that I would never abandon my family. I am super protective because of it.
My second reason is my girlfriend of one year, Alexa. She is my everything. If I survive Reaping this year, and the next two years, I want to ask Alexa to spend forever with me. I can’t picture my life without her. Having my name in six times is enough to scare her.
I finally decide to risk the chances of the Games and I slip out of bed. I go to pull a shirt out of the drawer when I hear Tyler snoring softly only a short distance from me. He is practically a miniature version of me. Standing just short of five feet, his tousled dark hair and pale gray eyes are almost identical to mine. I have been teaching him to hunt in the woods, for a more substantial meal other than the poor tesserae rations we are given. It’s illegal to go beyond the fence, and if we get caught, it’s certain execution. I had been caught once, but the Peace Keeper let me off with a warning. Tyler wasn’t with me. But if he had been, things would’ve been different. I am fully dressed and I slip down the stair and I reach for the door when I hear my mom from behind.
“Haymitch? Where are you going? It’s five thirty in the morning.”
“Nowhere.” I lie. My mom chuckles and I know that she knows me better.
“Haymitch, don’t lie to me.”
“I’m going for tesserae registration.” I sigh. She shakes her head.
“We have enough.”
“The portions of tesserae are barely enough to get us through the week! I’m not afraid of putting my name in!”
“No but I am! I can’t lose you! Tyler needs you. It’s not worth it.”
“I’ll be fine, mom.” I assure her. She nods and I turn towards the door again, but I hug her before leaving.
I approach the Justice Building just before sunrise. I am the first one here, meaning I can go home and sleep a while longer afterwards. The Peace Keeper barely looks up as he scans for my name.
“Name and age?” He asks. His voice is familiar, which scares me.
“Haymitch Abernathy, age 16.” I say. The Peace Keeper looks up at me and I recognize him in a heartbeat. Hakeem. The Peace Keeper that caught me going over the fence two years ago! If he still remembers me, I’m in deep trouble!
“Ah, yes, Mr. Abernathy. I caught you sneaking into the woods to hunt about two years ago. Let you off with a warning, I did.” Crap! I think to myself. This guy let me off with a warning once, who knows if he’s seen me go out again!
“So, Haymitch, you’re already supposed to go in for six tesserae rations. I suppose you are signing up for a few more.” Hakeem taunts. I nod.
“Eighteen more rations. That means I need a voucher for twenty-four.” He pulls out a voucher slip, but stops abruptly.
“Out of curiosity,” he starts, “when are you going out to hunt again?” My heart starts racing.
“What are you talking about? I haven’t gone out since you caught me.” I lie. My downfall is that I am a bad liar, according to my mom and Alexa.
“That’s funny, because I’ve been on patrol duty and I’ve seen you sneak out at least once a week with another little boy. Tyler, I think his name is. I have let you off of the hook once. I am not exactly in the best of moods. . .” Hakeem’s voice is low and threatening. He means that he would go after Tyler! Tyler can’t keep a secret under pressure! I’d be toast!
“You wouldn’t. . .”
“I would and you know it.” Hakeem grins. I look around and I note that we are alone. “How about I make you a deal? You give me first pick of your catch, and enter your name twice for each tesserae ration you take, and I’ll keep our incident between you and me. How about it?”
“I don’t make deals with Peace Keepers.” I say. There is no way that I am entering my name forty-eight times in the Reaping bowl in order to keep a secret! No way!
“That’s a shame, because all of District 12 would be watching your execution.”
“If I get Reaped, all of Panem will be watching my execution!” I snap.
“Reaping is all based on odds, Haymitch. There are a few boys who have their name in sixty times.” I think for a moment. My options all have death as a possibility. One of three things can happen. I can put my name in for Reaping, not get picked and then continue hunting and supporting my family, get Reaped and then die, or be executed because I disobeyed the law and bring dishonor upon District 12. Well, for what little honor we have.
“I can still hunt without penalty, correct?” I ask.
“As long as I get first pick of the meat.” Hakeem says, nodding. I extend my hand to him.
“Good man, Haymitch.” Hakeem grins and signs the voucher for twenty-four tesserae. My name is carefully written and then sent to the Reaping bowl. “Reaping is tomorrow. Don’t be late.” I walk away and I see others coming after me. In the crowd, I see Alexa. She runs up to me and holds me tightly.
“Haymitch, why are you here so early? I tried stopping by your house and your mom said that you left.”
“I needed to register for tesserae. I wanted to be here before the rush, that’s all.” I assure her. She looks worried. Her stunning green eyes sparkle from the light of the sunrise and her hair glistens like burning coals. She’s beautiful, she’s perfect, and she’s mine.
“How many times is your name in?” She asks. I hesitate.
“That’s not really important. What’s important is making sure that we survive the Reaping. Nothing else matters to me.”
“I’m afraid, Haymitch. President Snow says that he has a special announcement about this year’s Games! I’m afraid of losing you!” Her voice softens.
“You won’t lose me, Alexa. I promise.” She stands up on her tip-toes and her soft, rosy lips touch mine. I hug her, unwilling to let anybody hurt her.
“I have to go. I’ll see you later, okay?”
“Okay.” I smile as she walks to the Justice Building. I walk home and my mother is watching the television. We are one of the few families in District 12 to even have one. It comes in handy, but we don’t have time to sit and watch it. The only things we ever really watch are the annual Hunger Games announcement, the Games, and then the Victory tour. That’s only because it’s encouraged, no, mandatory. President Snow is on the screen.
“Greetings Panem! 25 years ago, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Hunger Games, each District chose one boy and one girl to represent them!” I can’t even imagine that! Voting in friends or family members! What were they thinking?! “This year, each District is to select two young men and two young women to represent them in this years’ Hunger Games, the Second Quarter Quell! Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor!” The screen goes black, and my heart hits the floor.
Either Hakeem knew that there were going to be four Tributes from our District and he tricked me, or he was clueless about it. But the odds are certainly not in my favor now.
I run back to my room in utter shock. The message is still echoing in my head. Four Tributes. 12 Districts. 48 Tributes in the Arena. 47 deaths. 47 grieving families. Tyler runs in to the room and jumps on me.
“Are we going to go out and hunt today, Haymitch?!” He asks. I roll over on my bed, facing away from him.
“No, not today. Peace Keepers are everywhere today and we can’t risk getting caught.” Again, I think to myself.
“But, but, but…” Tyler stutters.
“We’ll go after the Games are over, okay?” I assure him. Tyler nods and walks out of the room. My mom walks in and plops a letter on my desk. “What’s that?” I ask her.
“A letter from your father.” She answers. I get up and throw the letter away, then plop back onto my bed. My mother looks at me disappointed. “Haymitch, I know that you’re still upset about your father leaving, but you need to communicate with him.”
“He is NOT my dad! I want nothing to do with him!” I say angrily.
“He is your father whether you like to call him that or not. He never hurt you physically, Haymitch.”
“You act as if nothing happened and so do I! He abandoned us! Why should I connect with him again? There is a reason I changed my name from Crane and that’s because I want to forget him!”
“Haymitch, your father loves you,”
“If he loves me, why did he leave?!” I scream at her. My mother has no response. She simply turns and walks away from me.
“Haymitch, I don’t have an answer for that. But your father will always be you your father, whether he’s here or not.” She leaves the room and I flop back onto the bed. After a few minutes, I hear a tapping on the window. I open the curtains to see Maysilee Donner sitting in the tree. Maysilee has been my best friend since we were little. She knows me better than anyone. I open the window and she crawls in.
“Hey, is everything alright?”
“You heard our fight?” I ask, nervously.
“Most of it. So what’s going on?” She asks.
“It’s my, so-called ‘dad’. My mom thinks I need to reconnect with him.”
“Well, what do you think Haymitch? He is your father.”
“He left. I became the primary supporter of the family at age 10, Mays. I can’t forgive that as easily as mom wants me to.”
“It will take time, but eventually you’ll find away.” She turns back to the window. “How many times is your name in for Reaping?”
“Forty-eight. What about you?”
“Fifty-three.” She says. Her father is a merchant, yet they get almost nothing because of the Peace Keepers. “I have a family of seven and my mom is sick again. The odds aren’t in my favor, are they?”
“Mine either.” I laugh, lightly. “I don’t see the point of these Games. They do nothing but scare the people.”
“I somehow find hope in them.”
“I was always taught that Hope is the only thing stronger than fear. When you have hope, there is no fear. It’s like a spark. Once it ignites, it spreads and destroys what fear was there.” I sit in silence, thinking about what Maysilee just told me. “I have to get back home. I just thought I’d drop by.”
“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”
“Yeah, I guess so. Take care of yourself, Haymitch.”
“You too, Maysilee.”
I don’t even want to get out of bed. It’s the day of Reaping. If I am not selected, it will be a miracle. In the past 50 years, District 12 has had one Victor and he committed suicide a few days before the Victory Tour. We became the laughing stock of Panem after that. Most Victors emerge from Districts 1, 2, and 4, the Career Districts, we call them. They train their whole lives for the Games and volunteer when they are between 16 and 18. By then, they are lethal.
I pull on a white button up shirt and a pair of black slacks. I try my best to fix my shaggy brunette hair, but it doesn’t cooperate. Mom walks in and tries to help me finish.
“You look handsome Haymitch.” I don’t say anything in response. She looks into my eyes and can see my fear. Rarely am I afraid. I haven’t had a reason to be. Reaping in the past has never caused me to fear for my life before now. My name is in forty-eight times. Had I known that they wanted two boys, I wouldn’t have made that deal with Hakeem. I fight back tears as mom embraces me. Tyler approaches me cautiously.
“What’s going on Haymitch?” He asks. I look at him and shake my head.
“Be glad that you aren’t old enough to go in to the Reaping yet.” I swallow hard. He has one more year of freedom. The Anthem rings out from the Justice Building. My heart begins to race as I walk there. Alexa meets up with me and she grasps my hand. She is trembling, and I’m trying my best to hide my own fear from her. Seeing her this afraid breaks my heart, but I need to be strong for her. We approach the table and I face her.
“Alexa, after Reaping, meet me at our spot by the lake. Everything will be fine, I promise.” She nods and kisses me on the cheek. The Peace Keeper pricks my finger and shuttles me off to the roped of area for the 16 year old boys. I glance over and see Maysilee with her twin sister, Mable, and her best friend, Karyn, clinging to each other. Maysilee is trembling until she sees me. She nods and faces forward as the Capitol escort walks across the stage. Diamond, adorned from head to toe in blue, taps on the microphone.
“Welcome, welcome, welcome! This year is the 2nd Quarter Quell, and this year, two brave young women and two courageous young men will be chosen to represent you in the Capitol! But first, we have a special film all the way from the President himself!” The Propaganda video rolls on the screen, and the voice of our wicked leader is heard reading the Treaty of Treason, the reason why we are in this mess. I can’t even watch it. As it ends, Diamond walks to the Reaping Bowl, sealing the fates of four innocent children. “Happy Hunger Games! May the odds be ever in your favor! Ladies first!”
She reaches in and pulls the first name. “Annalise Mayor!” I see a very small, red-haired, 12 year old girl, slowly approaching the stage. She is in tears and her father is screaming for his little girl to run. A boy behind me, in the 15 year old section, begins to panic. Peace Keepers approach the little girl, pick her up and place her on the stage. Diamond reaches in and pulls the second name. “Maysilee Donner!” I shoot a glance at her, expecting to see her a nervous wreck, But I am wrong. She is hugging her sister, placing something in her hand, then walking to the stage.
“Now for the boys.” She pulls the first name. “Jack Mayor!” The same boy who began to panic walks to the stage. Annalise’s brother. I should’ve known. There is no mistaking that they are related. “Now for our final Tribute!” She pulls out the name. I close my eyes, praying for a miracle.
“Haymitch Abernathy!” I want to vomit. I take a deep breath and approach the stage, unsure of every step. Maysilee looks at me with fear in her eyes. “Let’s have a round of applause for our Tributes for the 50th Hunger Games!” Instead we are greeted with silence, and three raised fingers. A final goodbye, a sign to the fallen. Peace Keepers whisk us into separate rooms for final goodbyes from family. Tyler and my mom rush in and hug me tightly.
“Don’t go, Haymitch! Please!” Tyler begs.
“I don’t have a choice. I have to go.” I tell him, wiping a tear from his eye. “I need you to be strong, okay? For me and mom. This was my choice to put my name in as many times as I did. I can’t change anything and I need you to be the man of the house. Okay? You’re stronger than this.” Tyler nods and runs from the room. Mom hugs me and I can hear her crying.
“Haymitch, I just want you to know that no matter what happens, I am proud of you. Fight hard. I know that you can make it home.”
“I will mom. I promise.” Tears sting my eyes and I let them fall. A Peace Keeper announces that time is up. My mother leaves and Alexa slips in. I hold her close to me.
“Haymitch, I was afraid this would happen. I can’t lose you.” She sobs.
“You won’t. I’m going to win just so I can be with you.” I say, wiping a tear from her cheek. She kisses me and whispers, “I love you.” Before I can even respond, A Peace Keeper grabs me and drags me from the room, but I put up a fight. I grab Alexa’s hand, refusing to let go, until a second Peace Keeper grabs my hand away from hers. “NO!” I scream, and the door slams. I am shoved in a car with Maysilee, Jack, and Annalise, and we are sent to the train station. From there, we will be sent to the Capitol to face our deaths.
I find myself standing in a dark forest. The wind blowing softly through the trees. I’m home, I say to myself. I walk along the familiar trails until a voice, almost in a whisper, echoes in the wind.
Haymitch. It taunts. It’s the voice of Alexa. I turn to face her, but I am alone.
Haymitch! The voice calls again, this time stronger. I run after it until I see her standing there. The moonlight casts shadows along the ground, but her emerald eyes sparkle.
Come on, Haymitch! She calls, giggling as she starts to run. I follow her. She slips further and further away from me with each step.
“Alexa! Alexa, come back!” I shout after her. But she keeps going until I can’t see her anymore. I stop to catch my breath when I hear her scream. I clutch my knife and run as fast as my body will let me. “Alexa!” I scream. Finally, I find her body, bloody, lifeless. A man laughs from the shadows as I try to bring the love of my life back.
“It’s over, boy!” The voice hisses. I raise my knife to avenge Alexa when his weapon passes through my abdomen.
I wake up screaming and in a cold sweat. My hand trembles on my abdomen, realizing that it was all a dream. I quickly gaze out the window and see everything whizzing by. Alexa is safe. For now. I pull on a shirt and slip into the next car. I grab a glass of water and slip onto the couch, trembling. In the past year that I dated Alexa, I never told her that I loved her. Now, I will never have the chance to. I will die in the Arena. I know it. I hear the door open from behind.
“Haymitch? Are you alright?” Maysilee’s voice is soft, gentle, and tired.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I lie.
“I heard you in the next car.” She says, placing her hand on my shoulder and sitting across from me.
“Did I wake you?”
“I never went to sleep. I mean, I couldn’t fall asleep.” She assures me. “You had a nightmare, didn’t you?” I nod. She hugs me tightly and I, for the first time in two days, feel safe.
“Someone killed Alexa. Then killed me.” I say shakily. “I don’t want anything to happen to her. . .” I slam my fist on the table and pull away from her.
“Haymitch,” Maysilee begins speaking.
“I want to go home to be with her! I will personally kill everyone in that Arena to do so!”
“Even me?” Maysilee says, sternly. I stop. She’s right, even though she didn’t say a word. Fear and anger speak louder than my own words. I wouldn’t kill her. I couldn’t. I won’t.
“I’m sorry, Mays. It’s just that I have so much to lose right now and my head isn’t on right.”
“I know how you feel. The pressure’s on to represent our District, bring honor to our families. In reality, there is no honor in these Games.” Maysilee says. “Just try to relax. Alexa will be cheering for you the loudest out of all Panem.” She walks away when curiosity finally overtakes me.
“What was it that you gave Mabel back in District 12?”
“Oh, that? It was my mocking jay.” She says.
“A mocking jay?” I ask skeptically.
“It was a gift from my grandmother. She got it after the Rebellion many years ago from a friend who made these. It’s the only one that wasn’t destroyed by President Snow.”
“But why wouldn’t you keep it if it was from your grandmother?”
“I wanted her to have something to remember me by if I don’t make it home. A sign of hope. A dream that someone can stop President Snow once and for all.” Maysilee’s voice rises, not in anger, but in passion. She wants these so called “games” to be over just as bad as I do, if not more. But I shoot her a glance that warns her to be careful. We never know who’s listening. “Try to get some sleep, Haymitch. We still have a long trip ahead of us.”
“Thanks Maysilee.” I hug her and we both go back into our rooms and fall asleep.
I wake up and walk out to the dining car. Annalise, Jack, and Maysilee are just sitting down to breakfast. The youngest Tribute runs up to me and hugs me tightly.
“Good morning Haymitch!” She squeals. I look at Maysilee, who shrugs and giggles. The 12 year old barely is tall enough to reach past my waist. Her freckles, beautiful ashen eyes, and fiery red hair are sure to get Sponsors because she’s cute. Heck! I’d sponsor her for that! She’s so sweet! It’s sad seeing her going into the Arena, though. She doesn’t stand a chance in the Arena. “How’d you sleep?” She asks.
“Fine, I guess.” I try prying her tiny hands away from my body, but to no avail. I’m pretty sure that she’s going to squeeze my internal organs out.
“Annalise, let go of Haymitch so he can eat something.” Maysilee says, calmly. The little girl releases me and I take a small plate of scrambled eggs.
“Where are we now?” I ask. Maysilee glances out of the window of the train.
“I think we just passed through District 2. Meaning we should be in the Capitol in about an hour or so. So we better get ready. Come on, Annalise. I have a pretty hair ribbon that I think will go nicely with your dress.” She leads the little girl away. Jack shakes his head and walks away.
An hour later, while sitting and reading a book, I hear Jack’s voice. “I’m sorry for my sister. She’s, well. . . “
“No, it’s fine. I have a little brother. He’s clingy like this too.” I laugh.
“Not like Annalise. She still doesn’t fully understand what’s going on. She just knows that we won’t be returning home.”
“Did your parents say goodbye to you?”
“Yeah. I promised them that I would do everything in my power to protect ‘Lise. My older sister was killed last year.” That’s right. Alli. The odds haven’t been in the favor of the Mayor family during the last two years. “She would’ve been 19 this year.” Jack says, softly.
“I know that you’ll do your best to protect her.” I promise him. I honestly don’t know how this will be possible. I don’t even know how I’ll be able to protect myself. I gaze out the window again and can see the Capitol. “Well, here goes everything.” I say cautiously. Jack nods.
“Here’s to District 12.” He says, raising a glass.
“To District 12.” The train stops and Diamond quickly shuttles us off. Jack and I emerge, heads high, “smiles” plastered onto our faces. Maysilee walks off smiling, while Annalise is still frozen in fear on the train. Maysilee runs back to her and whispers something in her ear. The little Tribute nods and clasps onto Maysilee’s hand. Two men and two women wait at the District 12 port.
“Haymitch Crane?” One of the men calls.
“It’s Abernathy, thank you very much.” I say, shuddering at the sound of my father’s name.
“So you’re the boy your dad has been telling me about.” He says.
“You know my father?”
“Of course. He requested that I be your designer. I’m Angelo.”
“Just know that David Crane is not my dad. He left me.” I say coldly, shaking Angelo’s hand.
“He knows that. He’s been telling me that you have shut him out of your life. Personally, I agree with you. He’s just like my father. Abandoned me when I was 7. I promised my wife Jana that I would never do that to her or my son.”
“You have a son?”
“Yes I do. Cinna. He is a great kid. He shows a lot of potential to be a designer someday.”
“So, what’s your plan for me? The usual miners’ attire?” I ask.
“Something like that. First and foremost, we need to cut your hair. It’s too long for the Capitol’s liking.” He chuckles. A frown crosses my face. I have always liked my hair a little bit longer and so has Alexa. But I realize that I belong to the Capitol now.
I am no longer my own.
I look at myself in the mirror. Any hair that was on my body has been ripped out, my shaggy hair is short, styled, and Angelo put golden brown streaks in my hair. Only one thing still is the same. My gray eyes. It is shocking to see the difference. Angelo hands me the miners’ clothing and I pull it on over my head. I brush some soot onto my face and I look exactly as if I was pulled off of the streets of the Seam randomly. I walk to the Chariot that was waiting for each of the Tribute Pairs.
“Maysilee and Haymitch will go in this one and Annalise and Jack will go in the other.” Jana says. I look at Maysilee and despite the ridiculousness of her outfit, she actually looks beautiful. Her blonde hair is braided and has traces of soot in it. Her blue eyes are like ice in contrast to her dirty skin. I step onto the chariot with Maysilee by my side and the horses take off. Hearing the crowd cheer and scream seems to intimidate some, but for me and Maysilee, we stand, ignoring the crowd. We were above them. Nothing is going to change that in my opinion. Maysilee grips my hand tightly in hers as the 24 chariots stop in front of the Balcony below President Snow.
“Welcome, Tributes! We honor your bravery and your sacrifice!” Snow begins. I can’t help but roll my eyes. It’s not like we have a choice to be here. Unless somebody is a Volunteer, they don’t have a choice! He goes on and on about the Treaty of Treasons and how this year’s Games will be like never before. I barely notice when we return to the stables. Maysilee nearly trips as she steps down from the chariot. I grab her. A split second later, her and I are face to face, and quite close. She pushes me away a bit and we both laugh awkwardly. Annalise giggles and Jack silences her.
“Thanks for catching me.” Maysilee says as we walk to our Penthouse.
“No problem.” I say, feeling blood rush to my cheeks. We open the door and go into our rooms. I see a television screen and I see replays from tonight’s Parade of Tributes. Especially me and Maysilee. Caesar Flickerman, a second generation Host for the Games, talks about how he sees a connection between me and Mays. I see it too. I can see that I glanced at her several times during the Parade, and her glancing back. But there is one Tribute who frightens me. A girl. District 1’s older Tribute, an 18 year old with bleach blonde hair. I recognize her in a heartbeat. Comet. Every year that she has had a family member in the Games, they’ve won. Her Grandfather was the first Victor. Her father won. So did her sister, brother, cousin, and mother. I’m up against her?! Why did it have to be her?!
I walk into the Social Hall of the penthouse and seeing Maysilee scrubbing the last of her make-up off in the mirror. She looks like the girl that I grew up with. Her blue eyes sparkle as her gaze meets mine and I have to look away. Your heart is Alexa’s, I remind myself.
“I think I like you better without make-up.” I tell her. Maysilee’s cheeks turn a bright shade of pink.
“Really? I think that it’s rather pretty on me.” She says, wiping more away.
“You’re beautiful without it.” I say, approaching her. She blushes again and turns away.
“Jana wants me to cut my hair shorter. What do you think?”
“I think that you would look good either way.” Maysilee turns away from me. I can tell that something is bothering her. “Are you alright, Mays?”
“Yeah. I’m—I’m fine.” She says. I pull her close to me and hug her.
“Everything will be alright.” I tell her. She pulls away and walks to her room.
“Good night, Haymitch.”
“Good night, Mays.” I say. My heart sinks as she walks away. She has always been there for me. Now, we are enemies. She has to kill me. In my heart I am conflicted. I have to kill her once we are in the Arena, but I can’t.
Because I am finding myself falling in love with Ms. Maysilee Donner.
In the morning, I find our Training Center uniforms at our places at the table. A black fitted t-shirt, cargo pants, and black boots. On the back, a number 12, representing our District. I pull it on, then meet up with Maysilee, Jack, and Annalise in the Training Center. The supervisor is a tall man, sturdy, calloused, cold.
“In one week, the 48 of you standing before me will enter the Arena. In three weeks, 47 of you will be dead. There can only be one Victor, so how you do here in Training this week will determine how much of a chance you stand of survival once the Games begin. Though most of you will die at the hands of your fellow Tributes, others will die because of dehydration, starvation, infection, or you’ll be at the mercy of your surroundings. So, before all of you run to pick up a knife or sword, take advantage of the survival skill training provided for you here, such as plant identification, fire starting, trap setting, and on building shelter. Now, good luck, and begin your training.”
Almost everyone goes to weaponry. I go to orienteering. But I can’t focus. I keep finding myself gazing at Maysilee. I stop myself and try to avoid her. My heart is Alexa’s. I will never leave her like my dad left us. I can’t do that to her. Comet grabs my attention again, wielding a hatchet, throwing it at the target, never missing. I approach a table and pick up a knife and twirl it between my fingers. It’s similar to mine back home. I throw it at the target, hitting it square in the chest.
“Remind me not to stand in front of you in the Arena.” Maysilee says. I smile at her.
“So what have you been working on?” She picks up a bow and arrow and lets the arrow fly. It strikes the target in the forehead. She picks up a dart gun and shoots a dart directly into the target’s neck.
“You’re pretty good with one of those. How’d you learn to do that?”
“When you have one sister and three brothers, you pick stuff up rather quickly.” She giggles. The alarm sounds, dismissing us for the day. I start walking away when I hear a tiny squeal and a flash of red hair runs in my direction.
“Haymitch! Help!!!!” Annalise screams. She hides behind me as Comet runs after her.
“Get back here you little runt!” Comet screams after her. I step between Comet and Annalise.
“What seems to be the problem here?” I say, shielding the little girl from the Career.
“That little punk said that I didn’t stand a chance in the Arena against you. Everyone in Panem knows that I’m going to take the Crown.”
“Are not! Haymitch will take the Crown and you know it!” Annalise yells. I clamp my hand over her mouth to silence her.
“So you think you can take me? Is that it, 12?” She challenges, shoving me. I remain silent. I want to punch her right now, but Maysilee steps in and puts her hand on my shoulder.
“Haymitch, it isn’t worth it.” She turns to Comet. “Save it for the Arena, District 1.” She says sternly.
“Oh! Big tough District 12 has a girl fighting for him!” She laughs. Then, with a glare to Annalise, threatens, “I’m coming for you, pip-squeak!” I run my hands through my hair.
“Annalise, what were you thinking?! Do you realize how dangerous that was?!” Maysilee says after Comet is out of ear-shot.
“I was always told to tell the truth. She said to someone that there was no way she was going to lose. I told the truth.” She says, crossing her arms, sulking.
“What exactly did you say to her?!” I ask, not knowing to be flattered or angry.
“I said that I thought you would win because you have experience hunting. And that you’re strong enough to beat her.” Annalise answers shyly.
“Do you realize, what I would have to do? I would have to kill you, your brother, Maysilee, and everyone else in that Arena.” I tell her.
“What if you just hid? You’re smart! You can win! I know you can!” I glance back at Comet. When it comes to strength, she’s got me beat. Speed, I have in the bag. Tactic would be my best ally. I am naturally a hunter. I had to be. I walk back to the apartment and Angelo is sitting there waiting.
“Tomorrow is Final Judgment. The Game Makers will evaluate you, score you, and your standings in the Arena will be posted. Afterwards is your final interview.” I take a deep breath.
“I think Annalise painted a target on my back. She told the District 1 girl that I would beat her. I’m pretty sure that she’s gonna come after me because of it.”
“Prove to Annalise that she’s right. You can win. I know that you can, your girl knows it. I want to see you come out Alive.” I nod as he walks away. Maysilee approaches.
“Are you alright after your encounter with Comet?”
“Yeah. I’m a little shaken up, but I’ll be fine.”
“I’m proud of you for protecting Annalise today. She really needed it and Jack hasn’t been there much for her since we’ve reached the Capitol.”
“I’d do the same for anybody.” I say.
“Good night, Haymitch.” She turns and walks away from me. I wish that things weren’t like this. But they are. Even if I had the opportunity, Maysilee and I could never be.
I sit waiting for my turn before the Game Makers. I’ve already been here for hours and when I am finished, I will prepare for Final Interviews. Today is my last in safety. The rest of my life is in the hands of the Game Makers.
“Haymitch Abernathy.” A voice echoes. I walk into the hall, and I see a table full of knives. I look up to see the Game Makers, watching me like a hawk.
“Haymitch Abernathy, District 12.” I say. A Game Maker looks at me with condescending eyes. I recognize him instantly. Dark hair. Gray eyes. It’s David Crane. My father. Whatever respect I had for the man is gone. My father is signing my death warrant. His gaze turns from mine and I walk to the table.
“Long distance attacks first.” The Head Game Maker states. I position myself in front of the Target and throw a knife, plunging it straight into its chest. I throw a second, placing it in the forehead, a third in the groin, and a fourth in the stomach. I see the Game Makers, especially my father, shifting in their plush chairs. I walk closer to the mannequin and wait for the okay to start. I see out of the corner of my eye a thumbs up, so I proceed to mutilate the mannequin. I slash its face, neck, torso, and anything that, on a real person, would result in death. Something, that if I had the chance, I’d do to my father for leaving us. I look back to the Game Makers and they dismiss me, but my father’s gaze holds an iron grip on me.
Angelo, again, is waiting for me. He pulls out a black suit with a white rose.
“This is for the interview tonight. Jack is wearing one very similar, only blue, and Annalise is wearing a blue dress.”
“What about Maysilee?”
“She asked to keep it a surprise until you see her at the interview tonight.” I can respect that. Maysilee has always valued my opinion. I have always valued hers. Slowly, however, I find her stealing my heart. She has always had that special place. But now, I wish it could be something more.
I walk down the hall to see that they are starting District 12’s interviews. Great. Just great! I’m late!
“Why didn’t you tell me that I was late?!” I hiss.
“They told me not to bring you down right away because you were last! Relax, Haymitch.” Angelo says. I take a breath and look on the screen.
“Ladies and gentlemen, now let me introduce to you the lovely Maysilee Donner!” Caesar shouts. Maysilee walks out in a gorgeous black gown with diamond accents here and there. It’s not overly done like most Capitol women would do it. Maysilee looks absolutely stunning. Her blonde hair curled and it frames her face to perfection.
“Now, Maysilee, I must say you look absolutely beautiful this evening!”
“Thank you. My designer is the one who made this, not me.” She blushes.
“So, what do you think of the Capitol?”
“It’s very different from District 12. I’ve never gotten lost trying to find the bathroom before.” She laughs. They continue talking, but I don’t hear a word of it. I am awestruck by Maysilee. Finally, she is whisked off the stage, and I am pushed on.
“Haymitch Abernathy!” Caesar announces. I walk out, I don’t wave. I don’t smile. I was told to keep the same appearance of “I’m above you,” because some people here actually like it.
“Haymitch, tell me, how do you feel about there being 100% more competitors than usual?”
“I don’t think it will make much of a difference. The Games will still be 100% as stupid as ever. So my odds are roughly the same.” I say coldly. The crowd laughs. It’s true. It won’t make much of a difference. Half of the Tributes will die that first day.
“It seems like you’ve thought this through.”
“I’ve had to. In order to protect myself and the other three from my District. We don’t have a Mentor, so it makes sense to try and figure out how to do things on our own.” I say. Caesar shakes his head.
“Haymitch, to get to more personal matters, we heard a rumor that you have family here in the Capitol.”
“That would be half true. I haven’t considered him as family in more than six years.” I answer, trying to avoid the subject.
“Do you mind saying why?” Caesar is overstepping his boundary now. I am ready to leave.
“That is very personal. I don’t like talking about it.” I say, trying to brush the topic off.
“Why not, Haymitch?” Caesar doesn’t realize what I am trying to say.
“Because. . .” I start, “my father is here in the Capitol. He left when I was little.” I say finally giving in. Caesar gasps and so does the crowd. What? Is it so hard to believe that a Tribute has a parent in the Capitol?
”If you could talk to him, is there anything you would want to say?”
“I have nothing to say to him. I haven’t in almost six years.” I say. A buzzer sounds and I walk off of the stage before Caesar can announce me again. Why did he have to bring up my dad? Maysilee runs up to me and hugs me.
“Haymitch are you alright? When they started talking about your father you looked like a ghost!”
“I’m fine. Maysilee, you looked beautiful up there.” I say.
“Thank you. You look handsome yourself.” She giggles. We walk back to the apartment together in silence. We reach the door when I stop her. She turns to me. We stand in silence until finally find my nerve. I pull her close and her soft pink lips meet mine.
Maysilee doesn’t react the way I thought she would. Instead of pushing me away or slapping me, she pulls away slowly, gazing into my eyes. Her cerulean eyes sparkle in a way that I have never seen before. There is a flame. A passionate, loving, look that most men look for but never find.
“What was that for?” she asks, innocently.
“I . . . I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”
“Why are you apologizing?” I look at her confused. “I never said that I didn’t like it.”
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that.” I tell her.
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted you to.” She says. I immediately feel guilty.
“What do I tell Alexa if I make it home?”
“She doesn’t have to know, Haymitch. If you make it home, it doesn’t matter. Nothing could ever happen between us. You know that.” She assures me.
“But what if I don’t make it home and you do? Would you keep this our secret?”
“Of course. What happens before the Games is classified. Nobody on the outside is allowed to know. The secret will die with us, Haymitch.” I nod. “I’ve always seen you as more as a friend. Sadly, this is how it will have to stay.”
“This complicates everything.” I say, softly. “If I make it home, I’ll be with Alexa. We’ve been together for a year, but I feel as if I don’t truly love her.”
“Haymitch, this isn’t going to change anything. One of us will die in the Arena if not both. Alexa never has to know. I mean if she does, it could be this charade that you tried to get sponsors so you kissed me. It was one time. It’s not like we’ll ever go any further.”
“You don’t understand Maysilee. I’ve always loved you.” I say. “I never acted on it until now.” Maysilee looks at me and smiles. “I promised I would never leave like my dad did.”
“So that’s why you didn’t leave Alexa. You didn’t want to hurt her.” I nod. “If I don’t make it home, I want you to return to her. I want you to forget that tonight ever happened. Okay? Promise me.”
“I promise.” I say. I pull her close and hug her. Holding her close confuses me even more. I love her. But Alexa holds my heart. So who do I fight for? She starts to walk away. “Maysilee, wait. I want you to get the other two Tributes. I think that I may have found a way to protect ourselves for a little while in the Arena.” She nods and goes after the younger Tributes.
Annalise, Jack and Maysilee sit before me, replaying the plan in their minds.
“So what you are saying is that you want us to avoid running to the Cornucopia?” Jack asks.
“Unless you know that you could out run someone else. Not many of this year’s Tributes are fast, but they are deadly.” I warn. Annalise and I are both fast. Maysilee is swift, and Jack has more cunning than he wishes to admit.
“Do you think that it will work?” Maysilee inquires.
“I don’t know. But if you are able to get away, find shelter, find water. Find higher ground. I would recommend avoiding fire. Fire causes smoke, smoke is a signal. Signals mean that Tributes can find you and you’ll be dead in a heartbeat.” I warn. Annalise starts to cry as reality hits her. It hits all of us. Life as we know it is about to end. “Get some rest. You’ll need it.” I say, trying to hide my fear. I walk to my balcony and gaze over the city.
“Haymitch, are you sure that everything is alright?” Maysilee asks. I grasp her hand tightly.
“I don’t know anymore. I’m not sure of anything.” I feel her head rest on my shoulder.
“Me either.” I turn to face her and I kiss her again. “Haymitch, stop.” She says. “I want you to be with Alexa.”
“I know. But we will never have this opportunity again. You know that.” She nods and starts to cry. “I don’t want you to think about that. Enjoy what’s going on right now. You and me.” I hold her hands in mine and I pull her close.
“Haymitch! Come quick! The scores are on!” Jack yells. I run after him and Maysilee after me. On the screen are the scores. The Career boys scored very high, ranging between 8 and 10. When it gets to District 12, I am almost horrified. Annalise scored a 5 with a 35% chance of survival. Her odds of being killed: 95-1. Jack scored a 6 with a 45% chance. His odds of being killed are 75-1. Maysilee scores a 9 with an 80% chance. Her odds are 40-1. My jaw drops as my number appears on the screen. 10. I scored just as high as Comet. My odds of dying are 8-1. I hug Maysilee and the two little Tributes. Fear overtakes me. The realization that in the morning, my life is in the hands of the Game Makers. My father’s hands. The hands of the 47 other Tributes.
But I have a sliver of hope that the odds are in my favor
I walk down the halls that are below the Arena. My left arm burns from the Tracker that they implanted into it in order to tell if I am alive or dying. Two Peace Keepers stand by my side, making sure that I don’t attempt to run. Why would I? I’d end up dead anyway. I am shoved into a room with a small glass elevator in the corner. Angelo is waiting for me. His face shows no fear, yet I can see it in his eyes.
“Haymitch, I am allowed to send one weapon in with you. So I thought this would be appropriate.” Angelo pulls out a knife. Not just any knife, but mine from back home.
“How did you get this?”
“I was able to pull a few strings. I took a train to District 12 last night and was able to get it from your brother. He said to tell you to ‘kick butt’ out there.” I can’t help but laugh.
“Yep. That’s my brother.”
“Just know that I’m cheering for you, Haymitch. I can’t bet. But you know who my money would be on.” The door of the glass elevator opens and I step in. The platform rises and Angelo raises three fingers to me as he disappears from sight. It gives me a short window of time to think about my family. Everything I am leaving behind. Everything I have to lose. Everything I can gain. Light hits my face and it is blinding, I shield my eyes to see the Cornucopia in front of me. 47 Tributes stand an equal distance away. I glance around the Arena and see beautiful mountains to the north, and deep forests to the south. As the last 60 seconds wind down, I shoot a nervous glance at Maysilee. Her gaze quickly shifts away from mine. My heart is racing.
“10!” The voice of the Game Maker echoes.
“9!” I think about my mom.
“7!” My traitor of a father.
“6!” I bite my lip and can taste blood.
“4!” Our future.
“3!” The 47 others that are standing around me.
“1!” The kiss.
The gong rings and I bolt for the Cornucopia. I glance behind me to see at least 20 Tributes still on their pedestal, looking around at the beautiful, yet deadly, surroundings. Maysilee, Jack, and Annalise have already taken bags and are running to the woods when I finally grab mine. I hear a few screams so I turn back. Comet has already slain several Tributes, and the Careers are hot in pursuit. I run as far away from the others as I can.
My legs feel like they are on fire. My lungs hurt from not stopping my flight. My heart is beating violently inside my chest. But I keep going. Without warning, my body slams into the ground. I hear a moan and I glance up. It’s Jack. He hasn’t even looked up yet.
“I thought I told you to stay with your sister.” I say.
“Haymitch?” He asks, shaking his head.
“Where’s Annalise?” I ask, sternly.
“Right here.” I hear a small voice from the trees. I look up and see her sitting in the branches.
“Maysilee got away too.” Jack says, rising to his feet.
“Good. Be careful, guys. Good luck.” I get up and I hear a Cannon. I slowly begin to count them. 18 have sounded. The Blood Bath is over. The Weaklings have been eliminated. Now the Games can begin. I take a deep breath and turn back to the younger Tributes. “Stay alive. Stay hidden. Stay together. Jack, you made a promise, now keep it.” I say, sternly. Jack nods and runs into the forest with Annalise in tow.
I walk cautiously through the dense woods when I hear footsteps from behind me. I glance back to see one of the Tributes from District 5 sink to her knees and a Cannon sounds. Nobody attacked her. I think observing the body. I notice a reddish purple juice in her hand and I can see Nightlock. I shake my head, but then I notice something odd. They aren’t Nightlock. They are ordinary blue berries. But they are poisoned. The “food” is unsafe. I am now afraid to find out about the water. I approach a nearby river and scoop up some water. The smell is revolting. I glance up and see the body of a dead Tribute boy on the bank and my hunch is proven. The water is infected as well. I decide to find out what’s in my pack. I climb a tree and reach in. A knife. Dried meet. Clean water. A Blanket. Fire starters. Medicine for burns. This is one of the best packs that we were told that a Tribute can get and I have it. I suddenly smell something burning and it stings my eyes.
It’s sulfur. Where is that coming from? I look up to see a snow covered mountain, or what looks like one. The realization hits me like a ton of bricks. It’s not a mountain at all. It’s a volcano that is about to erupt and I am in the direct path of the carnage. I pack my bag and run. I run to the river and I climb up the rocky bank as the magma pours into the gorge. It is so hot that, even though I am 20 feet above it, I can feel the intense heat. My foot slips and I feel the sharp stones slice my shin. I fight the pain and keep climbing. Once I get to the top, I hear 10 Cannons sound. But as quickly as the Volcano destroyed the forest, it was replaced by the Game Makers.
The sun goes down and I set up a small perch in a tree. In the night sky, I see the faces of the 28 fallen Tributes. I am surprised to see that only 3 male Careers remain, along with Comet, and two other Career girls from District 4. All of District 12 is still in the Games.
From my perch in the tree, I smell smoke. Please tell me that the volcano isn’t about to erupt again! I begin to panic then I glance over to see a fire. I shake my head. This idiot is asking to be killed! Whoever this is will be dead in 3. . .2. . .
A scream. A Cannon. I glance up to see the face of the last remaining girl from District 7. Cause of death is because of the Careers. I tend to my wounded leg and shudder as the icy wind blows, so I reach into my pack and pull out my blanket. The warm fleece shuts out the cold as I curl up and fall asleep
I am awake at dawn. From my perch, I can see the Career pack not too far away from me sleeping. I slip down from the tree, pack my bag, and quietly sneak away. Fog hangs low on the ground as I walk through the woods. All is still. All is silent.
A Canon sounds, breaking the silence. I hear a small cry and my blood runs cold. I run as fast as I can to a clearing to see Annalise kneeling over her brother’s body, trying to bring him back.
“Wake up! Wake up! Please! Jack, don’t leave me here alone! Please stay with me!” The 12 year old cries, pressing on her brother’s chest. My heart shatters watching her. “I want to go home!” The girl sobs, collapsing on Jack’s mutilated chest. I whistle softly and she looks up at me. Her gray eyes have lost their glow, her cheeks are stained with tears, and her red hair filled with dirt and blood. For one so small, she’s been through hell. I take a step forward to comfort her when I see that she’s in the open. She’s an easy target to anyone who plans to kill her.
“Annalise,” I whisper, extending my hand to her. The Tribute shakes her head slowly and raises three fingers. I know in a heartbeat what she wants me to do. And I can’t do it. “No. Annalise. I won’t.” I whisper, holding back tears. I hear footsteps approaching from the woods behind her. She raises three fingers to me again and I crouch down so I can’t be seen, yet I can watch. Comet appears into view, holding a hatchet. Annalise turns toward her and closes her eyes. Comet swings the hatchet and I look away. I hear her Cannon and hold back every urge to scream. Comet snickers evilly and walks away, I emerge from the brush. Kneeling by Jack and Annalise’s bodies, I want to scream, cry, something. But most of all, I want to avenge Annalise. I hope that those in the Capitol are happy. They find entertainment in this barbaric event that tears Panem apart, and strikes fear into the Districts. It is ridiculous that a little girl had to be killed in cold blood so that someone could get fame, fortune, and a life of luxury. I mean, I want a better life, but I am not going to kill somebody for the heck of it. If I am attacked, then I will fight back or die trying.
A hovercraft appears into view to take away the Mayors’ bodies from the Arena. I turn away and head back into the woods. I see a girl from District 3 admiring a flower when she suddenly falls and her Cannon sounds. I pick up the flower and realize that it was poisoned as well. The only reason I know this is because they are buds of Nightlock which grow all around District 12. They are just as deadly as the berry itself.
I walk deeper into the woods when the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I can hear someone behind me, and I am afraid to find out who it is. I turn to see the three Careers. One has a spear, one has a tree branch, and one is strong in hand to hand combat. I have nowhere to run. The first Career runs at me with his spear and I dodge him. I spin around and slash him across the face and throat. The second slams me in the face with his tree branch, and I hit the forest floor. Next thing I know, I am pinned to the ground, with my own knife pressed against my throat. I am able to lift myself up and flip and slash him across the neck. The third Career tackles me to the ground and we roll. His hand is on my mouth, so I bite down, drawing blood. He wrestles my knife out of my hand and holds it over my head.
“It’s over District 12!” I pray that Tyler isn’t watching. I don’t want him to see me die. He is about to slit my throat when his hand suddenly reaches to his neck and pulls out a dart. His eyes roll back and he collapses. Three Cannons sound. I try to stop my nose from bleeding when I notice someone behind a tree.
“Maysilee?” She peeks out, and then approaches me.
“We’d live longer with two of us.” She gently wipes blood from my face.
“I guess you’ve already proven that.” I chuckle.
“So, are we allies?”
“Yeah, allies.” I say.
I cringe as Maysilee cleans the open wounds on my face. Even though she saved my life, she seems distant from me. Almost like she’s here physically, but not mentally.
“Annalise and Jack . . . they were killed about an hour ago.” I say, fighting back the memory of Annalise’s murder. She looks at me without any expression.
“I saw the hovercraft take their bodies.” Maysilee says coldly.
“I’m not sure how Jack died. But I watched Annalise die.” I swallow hard. “Comet got her.”
“Haymitch, that’s awful!” Maysilee says. She hugs me tightly.
“I want to avenge Annalise. I don’t want her or Jack to have died in vain. But I feel terrible. She asked me to kill her.”
“Haymitch, there was nothing you could’ve done differently. Did she just give up?”
“Yes. Jack died first and it was like she knew she couldn’t go on without him. She gave herself over to Comet.” My voice begins to shake. Maysilee looks up and I see dark clouds rolling over head.
“We better find shelter. It’s going to storm.” Maysilee instructs.
“I wonder if we can drink the rain water. My canteen is empty.”
“So is mine, but I don’t know if I want to risk it being poisonous.”
“If I drink it, will you?”
“There’s nobody else I’d rather die with.” Mays jokes. We turn toward the woods as rain pours down on us. The cold water sooths the burning scars on my face, arms, and torso. I lift my face to the sky and open my mouth. I glance over at Maysilee and she’s doing the same. Neither one of us are dead yet, so I guess the rain water is safe. I find a leaf and, using it as a funnel, fill up our canteens. After several hours, and many Cannons, the rain stops so we decide to set up camp. Maysilee sits next to me in silence.
“I’ve thought a lot about our kiss back in the Capitol.”
“What about it?” I ask.
“Do you think that we could’ve pulled off the whole ‘star-crossed lovers’ thing? If we really wanted to?”
“Yeah. But who would be stupid enough to believe that?” I laugh.
“Yeah true.” She giggles.
“You should sleep. I’ll keep the first look out, okay?” Maysilee nods and curls up. As darkness settles, the bitter cold sweeps over. I at least have a jacket to block the cold. Maysilee wasn’t so lucky. She shutters, and I immediately am worried about her safety. Several other Tributes have died in the night because of the cold, and I am not about to let Maysilee be one of them. I pull out my blanket and cover her, and she immediately relaxes. After several hours, Maysilee wakes up and I try to sleep until morning.
At dawn, Maysilee and I keep walking. I want to know where this all ends. The Arena can’t be as big as everyone is tricked into thinking. We trek through dense forests for what seems like forever, hearing several Canons along the way. Finally, Maysilee stops.
“Haymitch, where are we going?” I keep on walking, hoping that she’ll follow.
“Haymitch?” I ignore her again.
“Haymitch!” I hear her pack open and I spin around to see Maysilee holding her blow gun, taking aim at me. I can tell she is furious. “I won’t go any further until you tell me what we are looking for!” I roll my eyes and walk away.
“Haymitch, take one more step and I’ll shoot!”
“You’re bluffing.” I laugh.
“Try me! What are we looking for?!”
“This can’t go on forever, can it?”
“What? The Arena? You can’t be serious.”
“I am! The Arena has to end somewhere and I want to know where!” Maysilee shakes her head and lowers her blow gun. I start walking and she follows. Eventually, we come across a cliff. I feel my cheeks flush and I am embarrassed. I could’ve sworn that there would be more than this. What if Tributes just jumped? Then there would be no Games. No entertainment.
“Maysilee, I’m sorry for dragging you up here.” She doesn’t respond, and then we hear a Cannon sound.
“Haymitch, there are only five of us left. I don’t want it to come down to the two of us.” Her voice is shaky and unsure. I nod and hug her for what may be the last time. I kiss her on the cheek.
“Good luck, Maysilee.”
“May the Odds be ever in your favor.” She whispers back. She turns and runs into the woods, stopping once to glance back at me. Frustrated with myself for letting her leave, I kick a stone over the edge of the cliff and start walking away. Something hard strikes my shoulder.
No, it couldn’t be. I pick up another stone and throw it over. I begin counting silently to myself. Sure enough, 10 seconds later, the stone bounces back. I have found the boundary I was looking for! Now if only I could. . .
A scream pierces the air and my blood runs cold.
The woods seem nearly endless. I know that they aren’t that deep, but right now my mind can’t separate reality from fantasy. My main priority is to get to Maysilee and protect her like she did for me. Why did you let her leave?! Haymitch you are absolutely stupid! What is wrong with you!
I hear her screaming and I know that I’m getting close, so I grasp my knife tightly, ready to retaliate. I keep running when I get slammed from the side. I roll on the ground and I see a small Tribute from District 9 backing away from me .
“Don’t hurt me,” he squeals.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” I grab my knife and start running.
“There’s a girl up ahead that was being attacked by these pink birds!” I stop dead.
“Just ahead! In the clearing!” I bolt even faster than I was before. If Maysilee is being attacked by Mutts, I have very little time to rescue her. I get to the clearing and see these pink birds circling Maysilee while she screams. I pull out my knife and chase away several of the birds, injuring others.
“Maysilee! Maysilee are there any more?” I hear no response. But instead, I hear choking and gasping. I run to Maysilee’s side to see that I was too late. A bird had skewered her in the throat. Maysilee was dying.
“No, no, no, no, no! C’mon Mays! Stay with me!” I clench her hand, which is covered in blood. “Stay with me!”
“Hay. . . Haymitch. . . I. . . “ She struggles to get the words out. Tears begin to roll down my cheeks as my best friend is slowly slipping away from me.
“I’m here, Maysilee. I’m not going to leave you.” I cry.
“You. . .have. . .to. . . win. . . “ She mutters. I can’t even get my own words out of my mouth before sobs overtake me. Maysilee’s chest stops rising, her hand is cold and limp in mine. Her beautiful blue eyes close for the last time. A Cannon sounds and I feel my heart shatter into a million pieces. I kiss her hand and walk away as the Hovercraft takes her body away. I raise three fingers out of respect, then rage and pure anger take over. This has gone far enough! First Annalise, now Maysilee?! I hear a second Cannon sound. Only three of us remain. Me, Comet, and who knows who the last Tribute is?
If I know anything, I know that I still want to avenge Annalise and take out Comet myself, whatever the cost, even meaning my own life. The sun sets and I take my post up in a tree. I see the faces of Maysilee and the boy from District 9. I want to sleep, but I know that Comet is probably still looking for me. Despite that, I allow myself to drift into a light sleep for a little while. I am drained of all energy, and emotionally damaged. I have lost the one I hold closest to me. Maysilee was right though. Our secret would die here in the Arena. I plan on returning home and forgetting, starting over with Alexa.
Sleep doesn’t stay with me for long. I hear a Cannon and I realize that there are only two of us left.
Me and Comet.
The sun rises on the Arena. It’s hard to believe that the Games are almost over. 46 people have died in the past week and one more is about to. I have a 50% chance of making it out alive at this point. I think back to what Annalise said in the Training Center.
I said that I thought you would win because you have experience hunting. And that you’re strong enough to beat her. She has been right so far. One thing that I have been able to do that Comet hasn’t is strategize. Being a hunter, you learn to set a lot of traps. I have one set. I just hope that she is stupid enough to fall into it. I hear footsteps from under my perch. I jump down after Comet is out of eye-site and I quietly follow her into a clearing.
“Comet,” I say. She turns and I can see that her hatchet is covered in dried blood.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t District 12. Haymitch is it?” She circles me and I counter. “Where’s your girlfriend, Maysilee?” She taunts.
“You know that it’s only you and me.” I say.
“That’s right.” She laughs. “And I hope you know that I killed the little girl just like I said I would.”
“I know,” I clutch my knife. “I was there.”
“Well I hope you enjoyed it.”
“This ends here, and I’m doing this for Annalise!”
“Bring it, 12. This is what Panem is waiting for.” I lunge at her head; she ducks away, and tries to swing for mine. I spring back up to my feet as she throws a punch, hitting me on the side of the face. She grabs my wrist, trying to pry my knife out of my hand, when I strike her face, breaking her nose. Comet releases, wipes blood away, and then swings again.
I throw a punch, landing itself on her jaw, knocking out a few of her teeth. Seeing she is temporarily dazed, I lunge again and am stunned by a kick to the chest. Winded for a moment, I keep fighting. Each moment that passes reminds me that I am that much closer to making it home. I slash her across the back and Comet swings her hatchet, making contact with my side. I scream in pain as the hatchet is buried deep into my side, causing blood to flow quickly. In a last attempt to get away, I slice across her face, cutting her eye out of her head. Comet screams obscenities at me as I run like a mad-man into the woods.
I hold my hand against the open wound, trying to keep my internal organs from spilling on the ground. I’m losing blood at an alarming rate and I am light-headed. I need to get to the cliff and I need to get there now. I glance behind me to see Comet hot in pursuit. I get to the edge of the cliff, cornered by Comet. I have nowhere to run. My only hope is that she bleeds out faster than I do and I outlast her.
“You have nowhere to go, 12. It’s over!” I sink to my knees and she throws her weapon. I am able to dodge it at the last second. I can tell that Comet is hoping to outlast me, which is plausible at this point. I glance up when I hear an electrical buzzing. A grin creeps across my face and Comet looks at me confused.
“What are you grinning about?”
“It’s over Comet. I win.” I duck down. I hear a shriek and a Cannon. I slowly raise my head when the voice of a Gamemaker booms.
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the Victor of the 50th annual Hunger Games, Haymitch Abernathy from District 12!” I begin to stand and I collapse back to my knees. My vision begins to cloud over. I survived the Games. Now I am going to die. I don’t know much of what is going on. I feel myself being strapped to a stretcher and lifted into the hovercraft.
“Haymitch, try to stay awake!” A medic instructs me. But I can’t help it. All of a sudden, I am unable to breath and my vision goes black.
“We’re losing him!” A woman shouts. I feel a beating against my chest and then nothing.
I regain consciousness in a hospital. A tube providing oxygen is in my nose, IVs in both arms, heart monitors all over my chest. I run my hand over my nose and realize that they did reconstructive surgery. I run my hand over my side and feel several dozen stitches from where Comet hit me. I pull the oxygen mask off along with the heart monitors and IVs.
“I wouldn’t do that.” I glance over to see Angelo. “Welcome back, Haymitch. How are you feeling?”
“I feel like I was just in the Hunger Games and almost died. Oh wait a second, I WAS just in the Hunger Games and almost died!” I say sarcastically. Angelo laughs. “I’m glad you think this is funny. How long have I been out?”
“You’ve been in a coma for five days. President Snow thought that you weren’t gonna make it. But I assured him that if you had survived this long, you would pull through this like it was nothing.”
“As much as I hate the Capitol, I owe them for saving my life.” I pause for a moment. “So now what happens?”
“Once you are feeling up to it, you’ll have your Victor’s interview and then you’ll go home.” Angelo turns to walk away when I ask what’s been on my mind.
“What happens with the bodies? You know, of the fallen Tributes?”
“They are sent back to their Districts for burial. Why do you ask?”
“Does this have to do with Maysilee?” He asks, sitting down in a chair next to me. I nod.
“If I tell you this, promise me that you won’t say anything.”
“Even though I was dating another girl, I was in love with Maysilee. I kissed her the night before we entered the Arena. I need some sort of closure. Visiting her is the best chance of that I have.”
“I think that that will be for the best, Haymitch. Now, get some rest. I’ll be back later.” I nod and sink back into the bed.
I adjust my tie and gaze into the mirror. My hair has been cut again, and my clothes are fairly baggy. But at first glance, you would never know I just came out of the Arena. I am shuttled to the stage where Caesar introduces me. The crowd cheers as I walk, but I try to block them out.
“So Haymitch, how are you feeling? We heard that you almost make it out of surgery because of your final battle with District 1.”
“I’m feeling better, I’m still sore. But I was told that I will recover.” I joke lightly. Sore doesn’t begin to express the emotional hurt I am facing.
“You are the second Victor from your District, and you didn’t have a Mentor. How did you strategize like you did?”
“I remembered mistakes that Tributes before me had made. I wasn’t willing to make the same ones.” I say.
“Well, Haymitch, why don’t we take a look at some of the Highlights of your Victory?” A screen shows video of the past week’s events. Running away from the Cornucopia. Running into Jack and Annalise. The Volcano. Watching Annalise being murdered. Taking down the Careers. My Alliance with Maysilee. They show her death in full. I bite my lip and can taste blood as I hold back from screaming. I bury my face into my hands and fight back tears. I lived it once. I don’t want to watch it again. I don’t even notice when it ends.
“So Haymitch, this was a very hard week for you. My heart broke for you when we saw that you witnessed the little girl being killed. What were you thinking during that?”
“Annalise was a very sweet girl. I tried to pull her out of there, but she refused to follow me.” I take a breath and try to find the right words to say. “She gave up. She asked me to kill her and I wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it.” Tears stream down my face as the memory haunts me.
“And what of Miss Donner? Hmm? You two seemed to have a connection prior to the Games.” I was trying to forget. Thanks for that, Caesar!
“Maysilee was my childhood friend, my best friend. She was with me when my father left us and she helped me to cope. She saved my life and I regret letting her go.”
“Did you love her?” I want to scream yes, but I know Alexa is watching.
“No. Not like that. She was like my sister. She was my ally. I mean, I have a special girl back home. Alexa. We’ve been together for a year. I hated leaving her behind.”
“Did she come to say goodbye?”
“Yes. But I didn’t want to let go of her. I just can’t wait to go home and be with her again.”
“And now you will. Ladies and gentlemen, Haymitch Abernathy, Victor of the 50th Annual Hunger Games!” The crowd roars and I run to the train station to catch the first ride home.
The train ride home feels like an eternity. When it pulls into District 12, I run as fast as I can in order to get off. All is silent. There is not the response I thought there would be. Flags are lowered and the streets are empty, people are probably still in mourning of the other 3 Tributes. I want to get to Alexa, but I choose to run to the Donner house first. I need to find some closure. I pound on the door and Mrs. Donner answers. Her blue eyes show sorrow from the loss of Maysilee. I fall at her feet, sobbing.
“Mrs. Donner, I am so sorry! I tried. . .” Words fail me. I can say nothing.
“Haymitch, I know. But I am so proud of you.” She holds me, caressing my face. “I’m proud of you for trying to save her.” Mabel appears and places the Mocking Jay in my hand.
“I know she’d want you to have it.”
“No. I can’t take this. She told me that she wanted you to have it.” I say, wiping tears away from my eyes. Mabel’s blue eyes sparkled. She reminded me too much of Maysilee. She was her identical twin. I rise to my feet and sprint. But something stops me. Shell casings. I know what these are from. Peace Keepers. They are the only ones allowed to own guns like this. My heart races.
No! Oh please no! I run to Alexa’s home to find blood outside the doorstep. Her father is standing there, deathly pale, almost corpse like.
“What happened here? Where’s Alexa?” I ask, frantic.
“She’s dead... She’s dead.” He repeats.
“What? How?!” My heart sinks.
“You . . . the force field . . . District 1. . .” My stunt. I knew that the Game Makers weren’t happy about it. But why. . . NO!
I run home to see shell casings, and blood everywhere, but my loved ones are nowhere to be seen. “No! No! No!” I scream. A rage that ignited in the Arena sparks again. I know who is behind this. Someone who has never seen any good in District 12. My father knows what’s most important to me, but only one can give the orders that they be taken away.
I am going back to the Capitol.
I brush past the Peace Keepers that guard the entrance of the Capitol building. Several try to stop me but I push them away and keep walking. I find a gun lying on the table, so I pick it up. It’s loaded and that’s all I need to get my revenge. For Maysilee. Jack. Annalise. Mom. Tyler. Alexa.
I kick in the door and see Snow sitting at his desk.
“Why?!” I demand. A grin crosses the president’s face.
“What are you talking about, Mr. Abernathy?” He asks, almost innocently. I’m not about to fall for it. I pull out the gun and aim it at his head.
“Don’t play games with me! Why did you kill my family?!” Snow rises from his chair and slowly crosses to me. I, however, don’t back down, the gun still in hand, now pointing at his chest. “Talk! Or you’ll be the next ‘Tribute’!”
“You brought this upon yourself, Mr. Abernathy.” His voice is like ice.
“You lying son of a. . .” Before the words can slip out of my mouth, a fist from a Peace Keeper strikes my jaw and I taste blood. Snow has me on my knees, with two Peace Keepers aiming guns at my head.
“Haymitch let me explain something to you. Your actions in the Arena showed that Tributes could upstage the Capitol. Find a loop-hole in the Games. I can’t let that sort of thing go. You could’ve started another Rebellion and tear Panem apart once again.”
“But why did you kill my family?! Why didn’t you just kill me?!” I try to pull away from the Peace Keepers’ iron grip.
“Because I have to have a Victor. These Games bring fear to the people. I live off of their fear. It means that they will submit to the Capitol.”
“I know what is stronger than fear.” I say. Another strike to the face.
“What did you say?” Snow looks at me, stunned. I spit the blood out of my mouth.
“There is only one thing stronger than fear. Hope. It’s like a spark. Once that spark ignites, all fear is destroyed by the flame and you can’t contain it.” Snow signals for the Peace Keepers to prepare to execute me. “You said it yourself, Snow. You need me. You must have a Victor.” I smirk. Right now, the “Victor card” is the only thing preventing him from finishing me off. But if I know how this lying viper is, he’d have me killed anyway.
“I can always make your death look like an accident, Haymitch.”
“And I yours. You said that I could’ve started an uprising and who says that my death wouldn’t be a trigger?” I grin. Snow’s face goes deathly pale.
“Get him out of my sight. Put him on the first train back to District 12. Make sure he doesn’t try anything stupid.” As the Peace Keepers lead me away, I realize that the gun is still in my hand, so I fire one shot into the wall next to Snow.
“Be warned, Snow. I may not have started a Rebellion, but someone eventually will.” The Peace Keepers drag me away and throw me onto the train. There, I am overcome with grief. I am alone. My friends, my family, my girlfriend, all of them gone. I catch a glance at a flask of liquor on the table. I hesitate drinking it, because I have heard what it has done to people, but finally, I pour a glass. The liquor burns my throat and I am slightly disoriented. But I don’t care. Anything to help me forget the past few weeks.
I had to force myself to sober up for the Victory Tour. I jumped through all of the hoops that Snow wanted me to, even though I still wanted to kill the man. After it ended, I basically dropped off of the face of Panem. I wanted nothing to do with anybody. I stayed in touch with Mabel. She was the only one who could keep me from going crazy until she got married.
I started mentoring when the 51st Hunger Games rolled around. But the Tributes ignored my warnings and thought I was nuts. Their arrogance and stubbornness lead to their untimely end during the blood bath. Stress overcame me and I ended up drinking very heavily. Every year was just the same and I began to lose hope that Snow would be defeated.
The 74th Hunger Games rolled around and I thought that it would be like every other year. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 16 year old Katniss Everdeen volunteered to take her younger sister’s place and 16 year old Peeta Mellark was selected in Reaping. As I examined them on the train, something stood out about Ms. Everdeen. Pinned on her left side was a Mocking Jay pin.
Maysilee’s Mocking Jay pin.