“Fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself.” – Hermione Granger
I have no idea who this Hermione Granger is, but from this quote I can see that she was a pretty smart person.
My name is Laika Antoinette. I’m 14 years old and lived in District Four of the nation of Panem. The rebellion of Katniss Everdeen, 10 years ago, failed. The Mockingjay was killed. The Games are back and more brutal than ever. And I, apparently, am out to stop them.
I rolled quietly out of bed. Immediately, I knew something was off. There was no sound of motor boats on the waves. No shouting of sailors, no hustle and bustle of city life. And I knew why, too.
Today, the children of our District, of every district in Panem, were being reaped. Today, it was decided who went to the Hunger Games.
A shudder passed through me as I walked out of my house, still clad in my pajamas. No one was about, so it didn’t really matter either way. I lived alone. Both of my parents had died long ago, and all my six siblings were older than me, the youngest being twenty. All were too busy with their own families to care for a little fourteen year old. Which was fine by me. It prevented me from getting attached to them. I hated emotions.
My small house was right on a cliff by the sea. It was dangerous because there was no fence around the cliff, but I liked it that way. It made it easier to climb down to the sea in the morning to bathe. I descended the cliff easily. When I got to the bottom, I dropped my pajamas on a flat rock and slipped into the waves, where I had time to think.
Would I be reaped today? Probably. I took tesserae for myself and all my siblings, meaning I was in that dreaded glass ball 24 times, while all the other girls in my District were there only as many times as their age required. I’d always expected myself to be reaped. Why worry about it?
Duh, I should worry. I could be killed. But for some reason that didn’t really bother me. Huh.
The Career pack might want me if I was reaped. District Four was a Career District, after all. But Careers were tributes who trained for the Games. I’ve never trained. I have my lean muscles, my fighting and hunting skills, my street smarts, and a hyperactive but hostile personality. Not exactly Career material.
Sighing, I pulled myself out of the sea and threw my pajamas back on before clambering back up the cliff. I gently pushed my door open and slipped inside. After drying myself off, I pulled out my only dress. Ugh. I hated dresses, but it was mandatory. It wasn’t too bad, though. Black with a slightly poofed out skirt that ended at the knees, a white corset, and a white ribbon around the neck. I pulled the frilly thing on, then slipped into my white boots. The entire outfit had cost me two large pike fish and a deer. Freaking high prices.
I checked my reflection in the mirror that was propped up against my wall. I looked okay, I guess. My black hair was down, as usual. It fell just to the top of my breasts, so any style I could do would look pretty bad. I brushed my heavy, uneven bangs out of my eyes. Those were my crowing feature, for sure. I didn’t look anything like anyone else in my District anyway, but my eyes always made people do double takes. A gorgeous deep purple, like the color of wild violets, with a dusty, pastel pink creeping toward my pupils from the outside of my eyes, fading like a sunset. They were mysterious, almost haunting set on my pale face. I liked them.
Giving myself an approving nod, I headed out the door and joined the crowd of people now flocking toward the District square. I wove carefully in and out of families, working my way towards the sections for fourteen year old girls, where there were a mix of sobbing weaklings and proud, muscular girls praying to be reaped so they could go kill everyone at the Games.
Did I mention I hate emotions?
Even so, as I watched the crowds of people, I felt a sudden surge of anger. I wasn’t even sure what it was directed towards. The Capitol? Yes. Our evil president? Indeed. Katniss Everdeen?
Whoa. I shook my head fervently. Where had that one come from? But as I thought about it, I realized it was true. I was angry with Katniss, even though she was dead. If her rebellion hadn’t failed, no one would still be going through this hell. These evil Games wouldn’t be around. But as quickly as the anger came, it dissipated, leaving me confused. I didn’t have much time to wallow in my confusion, though, because just then, Faria Shine, our district escort, came on the microphone.
“Hello ladies and gentlemen!” she trilled in her ridiculous Capitol accent. “Welcome to the reaping of the 85th Hunger Games! And may the odds…” she paused to wink at us, “ever be in your favor!”
Many people cheered. Here, for most, it was an honor to be reaped. I remained quiet, fixing my intense gaze upon Faria. She, like most Capitol residents, had been horrible altered by the weird surgery they had there. Her curly hair was a flamboyant neon pink, done up in a beehive style. Her lips were the same color and her skin was a softly tinged blue. I was and had always been thoroughly creeped out by her.
“Now, let’s choose our lucky girl!” she chirped. The trained girls cheered. The weaklings sobbed harder. I remained silent.
Farina reached into the girl’s glass orb and chose a slip of paper. Somehow, I knew. Even before she read it out loud, before we heard the name of the condemned, I knew.