Wednesday, 5 June 2013


So, next task. Interviews.

This will be your last chance to impress Sponsors before The Games start. You'll have to interact with your stylists again and then with your mentors. Decide on how you'll approach your interview and what kind of things you'll say. As mentioned in the Rules, you will have control over Flickerman for the duration of the interview, but please try to keep him in-character.

All previous rules apply.

Start. You have two weeks to submit your entries to me via email []. By the 20th of June this has to be completed.

Updates and Announcements:
Statistics [Pre Games] page has been updated
Alvard Nemesis has replaced Masi Script as the male Tribute in District 6


  1. The Interview.

    I wake up the next morning and half tumble out of bed. I end up with my head still on the pillow and my feet on the ground, with my eyes still shut. This isn’t working. I sigh and sit down, dragging my top half off the bed in the process. My eyes snap open once my skin touches the cold ground. I groan and stand up, stretching and yawning. I wander over to the wardrobe and pick out a random hoodie and a pair of jeans, then move to the shower. I stay under the stream of water for a long time, resting my head against the cool tiling of the wall. Today is the day of the Interviews. Today is the day that I have to act a part to win the faith of the people who are currently betting on my life. Why should you be acting a part? I’m not the type of person people expect to see killing people without mercy. I got the skills, but the mindset isn’t there. What am I, to you? A voice. A very helpful voice, not saying you’re bad, but… You’re only that. A voice. You know what I’m getting to, though. I may be a voice now, but eventually I’ll be second nature. I might not get an eventually. Exactly. Think like me now, Sparks. Then you’ll win. Without a doubt. If you say so. I step out of the shower and get dressed, then move into the main room. I sit down at the breakfast table, noticing that the room is empty. I shrug and grab an apple. Haymes and Phoenix wander in, deep in conversation. Glad to see Haymes is finally doing something for the boy. Do you want to kill him? I don’t want to kill anyone. Would you prefer it if someone else killed him? … That’s a really vulgar question. Let me eat my breakfast in peace. Phoenix sits next to me and Haymes announces that he needs a shower, then vanishes.
    ‘Hey, Phoenix?’ I say. He grunts.
    ‘Do you think you can win?’ I ask quietly. He stays quiet. An Avox, somehow reading my mind, sets a mug of tea in from of me. I give a thanks even though I know I’m not supposed to. I sip it while Phoenix thinks.
    ‘I did, for a bit. But… Not so much anymore.’ He answers. ‘You?’ I glance at him, and I can only assume that we both look grey-faced.

  2. Phoenix and I don’t speak again. Not when Haymes returns, not when Ari (finally) enters, not when the table is cleared and not when we’re both ushered into our rooms to get ready for the day ahead. We were told that I would be having my time with Claravella first, and he would be with his mentor first. I spend my time with Claravella concentrating on posture, balance (god knows why, my balance is impeccable) and smiling. I listen and respond to her, staying polite the entire time, but when it came to the smiling, I wanted to argue that I probably wasn’t going to be riding on a smile in the Arena, but I figured, why complain to deaf ears, right? As soon as my session with Claravella finishes, I head to my bedroom.

    Ari walks in and sits across the bed and observes me for a long moment. Wait it out. She knows what she’s doing.
    ‘You got a ten.’ She says, finally. I nod. ‘And we’re going for secretive.’ She continues. I nod again.
    ‘What’s the secret?’ she asks.
    ‘I’m left-handed.’ I say. She cocks her head to the side.
    ‘I’m really ambidextrous, but my left hand is stronger than my right in most respects.’
    ‘How is that a secret?’ Ari asks.
    ‘In front of everyone other than the Gamemakers, I’m right-handed.’ I say. Ari sends me a further confused look. ‘I throw with my right hand, I pick things up with my right hand, I hold a sword with my right hand.’ I say.
    ‘And…?’ Ari prompts.
    ‘I’m left-handed.’ I repeat. Ari nods slowly, and then widens her eyes as she understands what I mean.
    ‘You’re left-handed.’ She whispers. I nod again. It is a good secret. I know, right?
    ‘Do you have a voice?’ Ari asks. I sit up slightly.
    ‘What do you mean?’ I ask. She gives me ‘I know you know what I’m talking about’ look.
    ‘Yes.’ I say. You can’t let your guard down around anyone, Sparks. I keep my eyes cold. Ari watches me.
    ‘I know our approach.’ She says.
    ‘Yeah?’ I ask.
    ‘Secretive.’ She says. ‘Cunning.’ She pauses and smiles at me. That infallible, perfect, dazzling smile. ‘And merciless.’

  3. After that I got hauled down to the prep rooms and I meet Clover there.
    ‘So, I was thinking what we had before, only… Less. The dress is the same design, but it doesn’t glow.’ She hands me a black garment. ‘You get the earrings again,’ she hands me them. ‘The shoes are the same,’ they get placed on the floor next to me. ‘But the real difference is the hair. No tiara, and it won’t be crimped. I’m thinking a braid to the side, and the rest straightened and out. What do you think?’ she asks.
    ‘I didn’t realize I had any influence on the matter.’ I say. ‘I don’t think I should, either, I’m that kind of person who looks like they dressed in the dark.’ This earns a chuckle from Clover.
    ‘I guess we’re going with my plan, then.’
    ‘I guess.’

    A while later I find myself wearing a black dress, the lightening bolt shoes and earrings, my hair as Clover described it and my make-up almost identical to how it was for the Chariot Rides. My lipstick no longer makes my lips glow, but is instead a rather mature shade of red. When it was applied I arched an eyebrow towards Clover.
    ‘It’s the colour of fresh blood.’ She answered. That was all I really needed to answer my silent question. My eyes have the same make-up as before, though both the contacts and the eye shadow are subtly darker. Right before I leave the prep room, Clover stops me.
    ‘Remember, now isn’t the time to be expressionless and disconnected. It’s the time to look hard, set, determined. Like you won’t be going down without a fight anytime soon.’
    ‘Easy.’ I respond. She squeezes my shoulder and pushes me out of the room.
    ‘Go get ‘em, tiger.’

  4. I’m guided to the wings of the stage where the interviews take place with Caesar Flickerman and I watch as I wait. Phoenix is behind me, in another tasteful suit. He’s mostly been avoiding my gaze since the Scores were announced. Don’t worry about it. Build on your potential alliance with the Careers. Will do. Speaking of the Careers, see who’s coming towards us? Convenient. Very.
    ‘Hello again, Miss.’ I say. ‘Congrats on the 8.’
    ‘Congrats on the 10. How’d you do it?’ she gets right to the important bits. I shrug in response.
    ‘Is there anything I can help you with?’ I ask. She pauses, looking back at Ariston. His facial expression is set. He nods back at Cain, who in turn nods at me.
    ‘Yes, actually. Would you like to join us during the Games?’
    ‘I assume ‘us’ are the same people I went to lunch with the other day.’
    ‘That’d be right.’
    ‘Well, yes, but I do have some baggage.’
    ‘I don’t think you’re in a position to barter.’ Cain says.
    ‘I’m not bartering, I’m stating. Do you see the boy from 3, just there?’ I ask, pointing. She looks over her shoulder and watches him.
    ‘Yes. What about him?’
    ‘He asked me to protect him yesterday. He’s agreed to never leave my sight, never carry a weapon, always carry equipment, set up camp, perform menial duties… In exchange, I have to keep him from dying for as long as possible.’
    ‘I’m a girl of my word. I will protect him until there’s ten people left in the Games, but he doesn’t know that detail. If you or any of your…’ I look over at the Careers, ‘… People try to harm him, I will fight to defend him, not to kill you.’ I look back at Cain. ‘By the way, it’s a similar deal for you. I won’t try to kill any of you unless I get attacked first or there’s less than ten people left in the Games.’

    I watch as each person is sent out and interviewed by Flickerman. They all get asked similar questions. He helps them, encourages them. He’s a kind person, I think. He sees 23 teenagers off to their death every year. And then there’s that. Are you ready to go out there? Secretive, cunning, merciless. Don’t forget to smile. Only when appropriate. Make it look genuine. Bright, but serious. Like you’re actively enjoying yourself. But I am, aren’t I? Brilliant. A smile spreads across my face. Just like Ari.

  5. A stagehand ushers me out onto the stage and I’m enveloped by camera flashes and applause. I smile warmly and sit in the chair by Caesar who is clapping me as well. I cross one leg over the other as he greets me.
    ‘My my, Sparky, you certainly look ravishing tonight.’ He starts. I chuckle.
    ‘If only I could look like this all the time.’ I counter.
    ‘I’m sure you without make-up wouldn’t be any less attractive.’ He compliments.
    ‘You’d be surprised. I’m a mess when I need to present myself well. Thank god I have a Stylist.’ I chuckle, ‘Not to worry, though, I won’t have to think about that during the Games.’ I smile widely.
    ‘A good thing, too! So, Sparky, everyone’s wondering. How’d you get that 10?’ Flickerman asks, patting my knee.
    ‘That’s a secret.’ I say, offering a small smile.
    ‘Oh, come on… You can trust me. I won’t tell anyone.’ He flashes a smile at the audience and puts a finger to his lips, ‘Now, tell me, is there anyone at home that you’re thinking of?’
    ‘If ‘thinking of’ means ‘wanting to prove a point to’ then yes.’ I answer.
    ‘Who?’ he asks.
    ‘My sister. My older sister. She doesn’t think I can take care of myself.’
    ‘Well, if she hasn’t changed her mind yet, I don’t know what will.’ He chuckles brightly. My face remains stoic.
    ‘I see… So, you’d be willing to kill any of your competitors?’ he asks, carefully.
    ‘I’m not playing favourites.’
    ‘Even Phoenix? You two seem to be getting along like a house on fire! I’ve been betting on an alliance between you two!’ He exclaims.
    ‘Then I’m afraid you’ve wasted your money, Caesar.’
    ‘Drat!’ he snaps his fingers, ‘Now, back to your family. You have one sister and one brother?’
    ‘I have two sisters and one brother. And a best friend who is virtually a sister, but technically she doesn’t count.’
    ‘I see. Well, I’m sure they’re all rooting for you back home!’
    ‘They’d better be.’ I wink at a camera.
    ‘I must ask, why did you volunteer?’
    ‘To prove a point, make a statement.’ I say, honestly.
    ‘So you’re in it for the fame?’
    ‘There is a certain level of glamour to being a Tribute.’ I smile.
    ‘And what’s your favourite thing about the glamour, aye?’
    ‘Well, the food’s great. And the décor!’ he chuckles, ‘But y’know…’ I lean towards him, as though revealing a secret. ‘Some of these people my age I’ve met…’ I grimace, ‘They’re kinda boring.’ He laughs before replying.
    ‘I’m sure they’ll become more interesting, Sparky,’ he offers a wink, ‘Give them a chance!’
    ‘I’m very picky when it comes to first impressions. Some of these guys look like they’d be willing to kill me.’ I try and keep a straight face once I’m finished talking but Flickerman gives me a ‘don’t be mean’ look and we both start laughing.
    ‘Are you sure about being so confident?’ he asks, after recovering.
    ‘I have more than one secret, Caesar. But my confidence shouldn’t be one of those. The reasons behind it should. But I won’t hide the fact that I’ll be seeing home again. After all, I never really said goodbye.’ I say. He nods solemnly.
    ‘Well Sparky, that’s all we have time for. May the odds be ever in your favour.’ He stands and holds out his hand to help me out of my seat and gives me a personal, genuine smile when I take his hand.
    ‘Ever the gentleman.’ I whisper, smiling back warmly. He chuckles and nods, walking me down the stairs and returning to his seat to welcome Phoenix.

  6. It really makes the rest of us look bad when sparky posts an entry less than four hours after the post goes up

    I awake, and only open one eye, squinting at the sunlight coming through the window. I roll over on to my stomach and pull the covers over my head. I don't feel like getting out of bed. And the fact that it’s the interviews today makes me nervous. I keep getting visions that I’ll trip on stage, or completely stuff up what I’m saying.
    Someone knocks at my door.
    “Who is it?” I call out, my voice muffled.
    “Guess who.” The person calls back.
    “Yep. Can I come in?”
    I sigh.
    I hear the door open and close.
    “Come out from under the covers.”
    “But I don’t want to,” I say.
    “Come on…”
    Zoe drags the covers off me, and I don’t bother to pull them back. I sit up, and bring my knees to my chest. Zoe frowns.
    “You look quite pale. Everything alright?”
    I nod.
    I nod again.
    Zoe still isn’t convinced.
    “Go shower, then come eat. You might feel better once you’ve freshened up and eaten. It’ll also help with the nerves.”
    She gives me a quick hug, then heads out of the room. Once she’s left, I drag myself out of bed and into the shower. The warm water definitely makes me feel better, and I just want to stay there. But my stomach grumbles, reminding me that I should get out and eat.
    I wander to the table dressed in a dark blue top, and jeans. I don’t bother with shoes. Everyone is already there, and I sink down into a seat. I just grab whatever looks nice and stuff it in my mouth. My stomach, if it were standing next to me, would be nodding.
    I scull down a glass of some sort of juice, and place my glass back with a thunk on the table. I look up and notice everyone staring at me. I grin.
    “Okay, let’s begin.” States Sariah.
    “Ariston, you’ll go with me, and we’ll work on your stage presentation. Miss, you’ll go with Zoe and work on how you’ll answer questions and such. Okay, shall we get on with it?”
    Sariah doesn’t wait for an answer.
    “Off to it then!” She claps her hands together, and heads off to the lounge, Ariston following.
    Zoe taps me on the shoulder.
    “Come on, we’ll go to your room.”
    “Miss, what’s with you? We’ve spent an hour answering possible questions but all you’re doing is mumbling! Do you know how important this interview is? Because I don’t think you do! Surely you’ve learnt this already!”
    Zoe is obviously annoyed at me, but I don’t care right now. I just stare out my window overlooking the gorgeous Capitol. I can feel Zoe glaring at me from behind.
    “MISS!” She shouts.
    “I’m scared!” I shout back.
    I walk over and flop on to the bed. Zoe softens her voice.
    “How come?”
    “I’m afraid I’ll stuff up completely, or just a little bit, but I’ll stuff up. I know it.”
    Zoe laughs. I glare.
    “You know, when I was preparing for my interview, I was acting just like you are now. You won’t stuff up. Trust me.”
    I smile.

    Sariah looks down at me sitting on the lounge.
    “How’d you go with Zoe?” She asks.
    “Good.” I reply. It’s true.
    We managed to get along better, and Zoe said I was ready.
    “That’s good. Okay, let’s get on with this. Quickly, do you know if you’re wearing heels?”
    I’m about to reply when Sariah talks again, replying to her own question.
    “Doesn’t matter, we’ll practise in them anyway.”
    I groan, and prepare myself for sore feet.
    First, Sariah gets me walking up and down the hallway in heels and flats, and then up and down stairs.
    I then learn various ways to sit, and as if I was in different dress styles. It’s all very annoying.

  8. I’m now down with Trianna, and just about to be styled.
    “What do you think? Something silver? Or shall we just go sexy?”
    I frown. Just go sexy?
    “I’m twelve,” I point out.
    “I know, sunshine.” She smiles.
    I roll my eyes, as she plays with my hair, putting it in different angles.
    “I’ve got it!” She claps her hands in delight.
    She grins.
    “You’ll see.”
    My prep team are called in, and they get to work straight away under Trianna’s instructions. They pull my hair in all ways, straightening, twisting, and pulling back. I’m dressed in a short, sleeveless, red dress, with shoes with little heels, thankfully. My nails are painted silver, along with my toenails. I look up into the mirror and see that my hair has been put into two low pigtails, and a side fringe has been added. I didn’t even notice. I even spot a little bit of make-up on my face.
    “You look gorgeous!” Exclaims Trianna. My prep team nod in agreement. “Time to shine!”

    I stand in line talking to Ves, Cieran and Ariston, when Ves brings up Sparky.
    “Me and Cieran have been talking, and we think we should ask Sparky if she wants to join us in an alliance. She’d be really good, for the time that we’d need her.”
    “I agree,” says Ariston. “Cain can go ask her.”
    I glare at him.
    “Cain, go ask Sparky if she’d like to be in an alliance with us.”
    Ves looks at me pleadingly, as does Ariston and Cieran.
    “Miss, please go ask Sparky. She’ll probably turn Ariston, Ves, and I down if either of us go.” Cieran pleads.
    I glare at both of them.
    “I hate you all.” And I walk off to Sparky.
    I’m about to speak, but Sparky beats me to it.
    “Hello again Miss,” she says. “Congrats on the 8.”
    “Congrats on the 10. How’d you do it?”
    She shrugs.
    “Is there anything I could help you with?”
    I pause, and turn back to look at Ariston. He nods, and I nod back at Sparky.
    “Yes, actually. Would you like to join us during the Games?”
    “I assume ‘us’ are the same people I went to lunch with the other day.”
    “That’d be right.”
    “Well, yes, but I do have some baggage.”
    “I don’t think you’re in a position to barter.” I warn.
    “I’m not bartering, I’m stating. Do you see the boy from 3, just there?” She points over at him. I look over my shoulder at him. He got a 7, if I remember correctly.
    “Yes. What about him?”
    “He asked me to protect him yesterday. He’s agreed to never leave my sight, never carry a weapon, always carry equipment, set up camp, perform menial duties… In exchange, I have to keep him from dying for as long as possible.”
    “I’m a girl of my word. I will protect him until there’s ten people left in the Games, but he doesn’t know that detail. If you or any of your…” She looks over at Ves, Cieran, and Ariston, who are watching us both, and so do I. “…People try to harm him, I will fight to defend, not to kill you.” She looks back at me, and I look in eye. “By the way, it’s a similar deal for you. I won’t try to kill any of you unless I get attacked first or there’s less than ten people in the Games.”
    I quickly think this over, but I already know my answer.
    I walk back over to the others, and explain the situation, and they nod. It’s fine with all of us. Ves, and Cieran are interviewed, and I can see them on the screen down here backstage. They’re such naturals, and I admire it. Soon, a stagehand comes out and ushers me to backstage, where I wait as Cieran’s interview wraps up. I suddenly remember my fear of stuffing up, and before I can panic I’m pushed on to the stage, where my instincts automatically kick in.

  9. I walk smoothly over to my chair, smiling at the audience and at Caesar who helps me to my chair.
    “Good evening, Miss!”
    “Good evening, Caesar,” I reply with a smile.
    “How is it being one of the two youngest in the Games this year? Do you think you’re ready?”
    “I’m definitely ready.” I grin. “And being the youngest is actually an advantage.”
    Caesar leans in close.
    “Really? How?”
    “Well, you see, I’m quite small, and it will be easier to avoid things. I’ll just crawl in between their legs!”
    Caesar grins.
    “You’re already plotting! I must admit, you’re quite brave, especially at the Reaping! And for someone your age! How do you do it?”
    I laugh.
    “I practice in front of the mirror occasionally.”
    Caesar laughs. I can feel my instincts leaving me, but the nerves are no longer there. I sit a little straighter in my chair.
    “That was a fantastic 8 you got! You must’ve showed the lovely Gamemakers no matter the size or age, you can always impress!”
    “Why, thank you Caesar, you’re too kind.”
    “Well, you’re a beautiful girl. You can’t be mean to beautiful girls! And plus, you could rip my arm off! You look so strong.”
    I can feel myself blush.
    Caesar laughs.
    “And you looked stunning when you rode out in the chariot! I was nearly blinded!”
    I laugh, and blush some more.
    Caesar pats my arm.
    “No need to be embarrassed when the truth is said.”
    He sits back in his chair, looking at me.
    “One more question. Do you think you can win this?”
    I swallow, thinking deeply.
    I nod.
    “Yes, Caesar, I really do feel I can win this. And I won’t let anyone stand in my way.”
    The timer goes off, and Caesar helps me to my feet.
    “Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Cain of District 2!”
    The audience claps as I head off stage, and my partner, Ariston, begins his own interview.

  10. Interviews

    I wake up with a scowl. For some stupid ungodly reason, I actually had a dream while sleeping. Not only has this not happened for years now, but I loathe dreams. They’re distracting and serve no purpose, have no use. Simply annoying. But worse than having a dream, my father was in it. Already in a disgusting mood, my first thought upon awaking was that tonight we will be attending nationally broadcast interviews with Caesar Flickerman.
    Sinking into a still worsening bad mood, I swing my legs around and sit up. Annoying… I think to myself. I’ve been attempting not to dwell on the dullness that today will surely bring in the preparing for the interviews, but considering it’s about to begin, I end up giving it some thought. Hayden is aware of my current mindset towards The Games and, more importantly, my life, so I doubt he’s going to give me a ridiculously hard time. Sophanna, however, is bound to be full of crap to force feed me before I go on stage and Gean is likely to have another horrendous costume to fit me into for the interview.
    Still scowling, I stand and head for the shower again to wake me up properly before dressing in my now apparent trademark jeans, shirt and hoodie.
    “Morning,” Hayden says from the breakfast table as I exit my room.
    “Hey…” I mutter, and flop onto one of the couches.
    “Anything wrong?” he asks, standing up.
    I shake my head. “Just today. It’s going to be boring.”
    “Just today?” Hayden frowns.
    “Today’s sooner than tonight,” I reason. “I’ll have time to feel like crap about that after the crap for today’s over with. Make sense?”
    “A certain amount of it,” he replies.
    I nod and don’t respond.
    Elizabeth makes her way out and we join her at the table for breakfast. Sophanna walks out, takes Elizabeth away, and Hayden guides me into another room to discuss whatever kind of stuff we have to discuss.

    For a while, he just studies me. I let him survey, and sit there, bored.
    Finally he speaks. “Shaun, do you think you have a shot at winning?”
    I groan loudly and let my head slump backwards. “I don’t know how I can set this out for you, Hayden,” I say, the conversation doing nothing to calm my mood. “I’m suicidal. I want to die. I’m here to die. I don’t want to win.”
    “I know that,” he says.
    “So why do you keep asking me these stupid questions?” I ask.
    “Because I know for a fact that you won’t be suicidal once you’re in the Arena,” he speaks calmly, but I can tell it’s a forced calm.
    I scowl at him. “How can you possibly know that?”
    “Because I was in exactly the same position as you are now when it was my turn,” Hayden says.
    “Yeah, great, you were a tribute, I’m a tribute,” I sigh. “Wow.”
    “I meant that we were both suicidal.”
    The words don’t have as big an impact on me as Hayden seems to be expecting, and I take the information into my stride easily.
    “Brilliant,” I shift into a more comfortable position and look back to him. “In that case, you should know that all I really want is to let the subject be forgotten until I’m actually dying.”
    “I do, yes,” Hayden says. “Now do me a favour and calm down.”
    I sit there and continue to simply stare at him for a few minutes, but eventually I do calm myself. And when I’m ready, I nod.
    “Could you answer the question for me?” he requests.
    “Do I think I can win?” I repeat. “I could. If I wanted. I think so, anyway. I mean, you pretty much set it out in my head on the first night, didn’t you?”

  11. He nods.
    “So yes. That’s my answer. But I don’t-”
    “You don’t want to win right now, yes, I know,” Hayden interrupted. “Now, I’d like to make you a deal.”
    I raised an eyebrow at him. “Really?”
    “Really really,” he confirmed.
    “Alright…” I mutter. “Let’s see what it is.”

    “I assume you will have already deducted by this point that the best possible alliance you could make this close to the Games is Sparky Braginski?”
    I nod. “Yeah,” I say. “But I’ve also reasoned she’s probably with the Careers at this point. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s made alliances with a few others just to throw everyone off.”
    “That doesn’t matter right now,” Hayden said. “We can talk about that more afterwards. But the deal is this. You approach Sparky after the interviews are over tonight and request an alliance. You do that, and I’ll talk to Gean and Sophanna. Sophanna will lay off you, and Gean will let you wear what you like tonight.”
    I’m left looking at him with a raised eyebrow again.
    “Look at it this way,” he says. “You do something for me that, in your point of view, won’t affect the rest of your life. In return, you get to spend the rest of the day less annoyed, and wear what you like in your last night out of the Arena.”
    I shrug. “Alright, fine, fair enough. But if she doesn’t want an alliance, then that’s it, right? No more on my part.”
    “For now, yes,” Hayden said. “But you can expect subtle instructions from me when you’re in the Arena through Sponsors. But again, in your point of view this won’t affect you.”
    I shrug again. “Alright. Fine. Deal.”

    And that’s it. Hayden fires a few questions at me which I basically shrug off, and then takes me back out and we join everyone else at the table for lunch. Elizabeth, who has just finished her work with Sophanna, looks annoyed and disgruntled.
    We eat mostly in silence and Catherin takes Elizabeth off again after we’ve finished. Sophanna takes longer to eat than anyone else and Hayden decides to remain at the table until she’s done for my sake. She finishes and tells me which room to head to while Hayden speaks to her.
    True to his word, Hayden convinced Sophanna to lay off me and she returns to me a few minutes later looking disgruntled. She mades a few comments about my posture while standing, but other than that lets me do what I want for the remainder of our session.

    After that, I’m taken away to see Gean who, again, has been spoken to by Hayden. He seems to have taken it harder than Sophanna did, however, and was horrified when he found out that I intended to go on stage wearing my jeans and hoodie. He finally allowed it to slide, but couldn’t help himself from fixing a few things with my hair.

  12. After Gean finishes I’m taken to the wings of the stage and am seated with the rest of the Tributes, in next to Elizabeth and Inkbright. I get a few looks from the other Tributes. I’ve prepared for this anyway. Considering how ridiculously casual I must look compared to them, I’m surprised no one mocks me for it.
    “You’re seriously going on stage looking like that?” asks Elizabeth in a hushed whisper as the audience begins to quieten for Caesar to begin speaking.
    “Yup,” I tell her, and relax into the seat.
    One by one the tributes are called up. One give their usual audience-winning talks, and something similar goes on for Two. By the time Nixion Strange is called up, I’ve already lost my concentration to the dullness of it all. Even if I had been trying to win I probably wouldn’t have spared the interviews of other tributes much attention. The whole thing is designed for the tributes to win over sponsors and the general audience. Nine times out of ten there is nothing genuine in the performances given by the tributes because that’s what they are: performances. Personality and demeanour devised by lies. I couldn’t care less what kind of attitude they brew up for the Capitol.
    I pay some attention to Sparky’s interview, but it bores me just as One and Two had done, and I lose interest again before it’s even completed. Which is saying something, considering the interviews appear to be shorter this year than they have been the years I’ve seen on television back in Nine.
    I vaguely acknowledge that Inkbright has just been called up and ready myself to go on stage. There’s nothing else to prepare. I don’t have a faked personality to use, I don’t have pre-rehearsed answers to likely questions. I don’t even have a suit.
    So Inkbright leaves the stage and I walk onto it as Caesar calls me up.

    The applause for me is not genuine, and only exists at all due to routine in my opinion. The audience has no reason to warm to me – a tribute who earned a 3 in Training. They are even more turned off by my complete lack of formal dressing. I realise that this is going to put a bad light on Gean. I spare him a look and am not surprised to discover that I really don’t care much.
    I sit, looking at Caesar and return his smile half-heartedly.
    “Shaun, Shaun, Shaun,” Caesar says, still smiling despite my lack of enthusiasm. “That’s definitely a different style of dressing your stylist appears to be going for.”
    “Not really,” I tell him, talking casually and sounding out of place in this huge room full of people watching. “It was actually me that chose to wear this.”
    “And he let you?” Caesar asks, frowning for the show.
    I shrug. “He was kind of blackmailed.”
    The audience laughs for some unknown reason and I raise an eyebrow at Caesar which he takes as a queue to get on with the questions.
    “How do you like the Capitol so far?” he asks, smiling at me again.
    I give another shrug. “I’ve seen worse.” I reply lazily.
    Half the audience takes this offensively, the other half seem to take it as a joke and laugh again.
    “I bet you have,” Caesar laughs shortly and leans forward. “So tell me, you got a rather low Training Score, but you don’t seem to me like a particularly lacking person. Got any secrets you’re holding out on?”
    “Secrets?” I give a bark of amusement. “Plenty.”
    “I suspected as much,” he nods appreciatively. “I’ll have my eye on you in the Arena.”
    “You just watch closely,” I tell him.
    “Ready to surprise us are we?” he asks, grinning.
    I lean back into the chair more comfortably. “Always,” I say.
    The audience cheers for some reason. Caesar ushers me off the stage with parting words, ready for the next tribute, and I spend the next three interviews wondering why my interview was so short. It doesn’t really matter. I’m in District Nine, he’s probably getting bored of the similar kinds of questions by this point.

  13. The next time I look up, Caesar is standing again and giving the usual outro to the television and the audience. The curtains close, and we’re dismissed. I stand up last and give a short sigh, looking around for Sparky. I could always just leave. Hayden’s already closed his end of the deal and I’ve reaped all the benefits already. Nothing stopping me from just leaving and dying tomorrow as planned. But no, I reason with myself, just do it for Hayden.
    So I groan and follow the girl lazily until I get her attention, by which time we aren’t far from the lifts back to our rooms.
    She turns and I get right to the point, having no desire to talk to her any longer than I have to.

    “Are you in an alliance yet?” I ask her, bored already.
    “Yes, several,” she answers. I nod. I said she would be, I think to myself, didn’t I say she would be?.
    “Got room for one more?” I ask without much interest in my voice.
    “Maybe,” she says.
    Oh god, she’s dragging it out. Are you seriously dragging this out, why would you do that?
    “Maybe yes or maybe no?” I ask, almost sigh.
    “Maybe yes,” she says. “Lucky you.” Oh yes, lucky me…
    I’m about to continue on to the lifts but she continues talking. “Y’see, you’ve gotten in pretty late on the Braginski roster. Here’s the deal. You stay out of the way of the Careers when they’re hunting. I can almost guarantee that I’ll be there too, with Nixion Strange from 3.”
    “If you get noticed, I’ll trip him up to create a distraction. And then you run. If you can handle that, I’ll give you food, water…Maybe a spear or too.” I make a face at the mention of spears, but accept these terms anyway. I couldn’t care less.
    “Fine,” I say. “Whatever.”
    What I’m more interested in, however, is why she would prioritize me over Nixion Strange if I was the one that got in late on her “Braginski Roster”.
    She says something else but I don’t catch it, too bored with the conversation, and too busy pondering over what she’d said.
    “Why are you so willing?” I end up asking, maybe cutting her off mid-sentence. I’m not sure, still wasn’t actually listening.
    “Because you’re either a bumbling idiot, or very, very cunning,” She says curtly. “See you in the Arena.” And she walks off with her mentor.
    I yawn at the response after she’s gone and headed for the second lift.

  14. “Did you do it?” asks Hayden.
    “Yeah,” I say, grabbing an apple and lying on the couch.
    “You shouldn’t be so disinterested,” Hayden tells me, sitting on the opposite couch.”
    I shrug and take a bite out of the apple before spitting it out. Hayden raises an eyebrow.
    “It’s horrible,” I tell him. “Why do people eat these?”
    “Because it’s really not horrible,” he replies.
    I stand up, ignoring him.
    “Where are you going?” he asks exasperatedly.
    “To find some yoghurt,” I tell him, and he frowns.
    I grab a carton of it, and Hayden follows me to the table.
    “Listen,” he says. “I know you don’t care about this now, but please pay attention.” I spare him a look, and he continues. “Listen to me, everything is going to change when that gong sounds tomorrow. You might change before that, maybe not, but listen. When you do change, firstly, go with it. Remember that if you want to revert to your original plan, you always can. But if your head is telling you something else, go with that.”
    I nod. “Fine.”
    “Second thing is stick with Sparky for as long as your mind is changed. Did she lay down any conditions?”
    I shrug. “She might have. Wasn’t really clear on it. Stay out of the way of the Careers is the only thing that really seemed to matter.”
    “Then do that too,” he tells me.
    “Fine,” I repeat. I dump the yoghurt in the bin without eating the rest of it. “Eugh,” I mutter and Hayden sighs.
    I turn to him. “She said something else too that I actually found interesting.”
    “That’s a feat,” Hayden responded, surprised.
    I nod. “She said that if I get noticed – by the Careers, I guess – then she’d trip up Strange from 3 to distract them for me. She’s in an alliance with him too.”
    “She’s probably as intelligent as she seems then,” he says. “She’s prioritizing the most important alliances she has.”
    “Ah,” I say. “Makes sense.”
    “Yeah,” Hayden says. “You should probably go to bed. Big day tomorrow.”
    I make a face. “You aren’t my dad.”
    “I’m better than your dad,” he tells me, and walks off.
    “That’s true,” I mutter, and head for my room.

  15. I wasn't going to win anyway the interviews were just ways to confirm that the people who got high scores weren't just mindless robots.
    This was the only chance I had.
    I surely wasn't going to get any sponsors because of my ability to kill people and my personality wasn't the best but it was either try or give up and jump off the podium in the games before the timer even went off. I was in an alliance but I seriously doubted that if it came down to it they wouldn't finish me off to make their own chances of survival better.
    I was dressed up in the same luminous blue suit and had my hair done the same way as the chariot rides. I was standing waiting to go out and when my time came I strolled out smiling and waving looking out onto the people who would decide my fate, it sickened me to think about it but I tried to hide all that as I sat down opposite Caesar Flickerman his hair almost as luminous as my suit.
    "Well hello Mr Threatening and what a peculiar last name you have, do you know where it's from?" I was caught off guard by the question, what did my name matter when I had an arrow lodged in my chest. " My father always said it was from some old nation from across the sea" "Oh, how interesting." He replied. " And what would you say is the thing you like the most about the capital?" Now this was one I was prepared for, a kiss up answer was probably the best here. " Seeing all the different types of bread."
    " Pardon ?" Caesar replied with the smile that must be plastered to his face.
    " Well my Father is a baker so seeing all the breads from the different districts tells me a lot about what it's like their, like our bread from district four, salty and green from all the seaweed that you can go anywhere without seeing. "
    " And what would you say your strengths are in this competition?"
    Caesar asked. " Well survival and hunting probably." I answered putting on my most pensive look. " And why would that be ?"
    " Well since I live on my own and I fend for myself I'd have to be good at it or I wouldn't be here now would I?"
    " Are you saying you live in the wild?" " Kind of" I replied. I knew I could take the smile off his face.
    " Well folks, Eden Threatening " Finished Caesar trying to wrap it up as quick as he could.
    I wave to the crowd and strolled off.



    "Which angles do you think you should go for?" Lin asked us.
    We knew what she meant. The best way to tackle the interviews was to act a certain way - sexy, mysterious, humerous.
    "I'm . . . not sure," Cambric admitted.
    "Funny," I said immediately, because I had been thinking about this, and it was my only option. I wasn't that pretty, certainly not beautiful. I wasn't brutal and deadly, had no special talents. I wasn't amazingly clever. Acting mysterious would be pathetic in its failure as it was painfully obvious I had nothing interesting or useful to hide. Seemed to me like I had one option left. I was no comedian, but I could amuse people sometimes and being okay at something was better than being rubbish at something, which I was with all the other sometimes.
    Lin nodded. 'What kind of funny?"
    I blinked. "I dunno, smart-remark funny," I guessed, frightened into it by an image in my head of me dancing around in ridiculous shoes.
    "Okay," Lin said, and then she took me off, Jon took Cambric off, and that was that.
    Well done, Star, for making a decision and saving us hours of timewasting, even though decisions are hard for you to make. We really appreciate it, and because we are so grateful, of COURSE we wouldn't just thunder on along the racetracked without taking one tiny second to say thank you. Oh, no.

  17. I thought I would be okay at being funny (not brilliantly, but okay). By the end of it, I was doubting that very much. It's one thing to think mad random thoughts every now and then (like about how my room here was blue. See, that was perfectly random), but quite another to carefully structure amusing things to say and then endlessly repeat them with conviction. Lin asked me questions I was likely to be asked, and I had to reply with our pre-prepared answer. Then we went over and redesigned/decided we didn't need to redesign the answer ready for next time, and moved onto thr next question, until we'd done each one a thousand times. Lin allowed me to adlib, but then more often than not removed my adlibations.
    Then she started having a go at me for being too emotionless, or two quiet, or looking away, and no matter how many times I explained that I couldn't lie well (and I was lying with these answers) and that this also meant I couldn't lie emotionally, and found it hard to show false emotion, she just told me I'd have to learn.
    In the end, we were left with a frustrated and annoyed me, but a rather happy Lin, because apparently I'd done better than utterly rubbish.
    And I suppose that was the highest I'd get. Better than utterly rubbish.
    And then I would die.
    Something deep in my screamed, protested. It wasn't fair. I would never live to be the person I could have been, done the things I could have done. There would be this hole in the world where I should be, and WHY? So Capitol people could laugh at me?
    What was the point to me, to my life, if I were to die now?
    I couldn't die now. I'd barely done anything. Barely stepped out of my nest. I would die without making so much as the slightest imprint on the earth, and . . . I was sad about it.
    But I had no chance to think melancholy thoughts about death, because we moved on to other lessons. Lessons on how to speak clearly and move gracefully and walk in high heels. All of which I was bad at. I think I tackled the heels and the speaking, as I would be thinking about what I was speaking anyway and I could hardly forgot my horrible shoes when walking, but I just kept instinctively being ungraceful. I hoped that in tge interview I would remember it by remembering the fact that I never remembered it, but that required luck, and judging by the fact that I was in the Hunger Games, I was a little short on that.
    And there was another thing. I needed an alliance. It had been worrying at the back of my mind all day. In the Hunger Games, it was given that I was going to die. Jon and Lin had hardly been utterly caring and enthusiastic with me and Cambric; reading between the lines, they thought we had no chance. There were lots of Tributes far better than us.
    If I was in an alliance, there would be slightly more chance of me surviving.
    Maybe I was still going to die, but faith was hoping against the odds. No . . . Wasn't faith seeing when shutting the eye of reason, and hope beliving against the odds? Or had I made that up?
    Oh, never mind. Faith was something, hope was something, and whatever they were, I believed in them. Maybe. Something. Not really.
    But anyway, I put my thinking cap on.


    On the day of the interviews, I was stood on the District 6 floor, looking at my watch.
    I wanted to be in an alliance with them because they were about my level (sorry, District 6!), didn't seem to be in an alliance already and appeared okay.

  18. Plus they didn't have a scary guard guarding their floor. I think they were meant to. Stupid scary guard, not sticking to his post. Should be fired.
    I kind of awkwardly stood there until I saw Alvard walking along the corridor. He looked like he was about to walk past me, and I panicked and grabbed his shoulder. He tensed and I flinched, taking my hand off. Noppppe, not good at this.
    I searched around for a conversation opener.
    "I saw you throwing knives the other day . . . You are really good at that," I babbled.
    "Um . . . thanks," he said.
    I held out my hand and gave an introduction, which was the next logical thing to do.
    Okay, this was failing, and my courage was pretty much dried up. I told him it was nice meeting him and disappeared, trying to forget it.
    Usually it would have be hard to do so, but I had intervkews abd death to worry about. My mind was pretty filled as it was.


    I met up with Cambric in the elevators, the first time I'd properly spoken to him recently. He was in a dark blue suit that went well with my light blue silver-tinged dress and shoes I'd been ordered to wear, marking us out as District partners. I was surprised by the fact I was pleased to see him.
    "How are you?" I asked, not having anything better to say."Shaking with nerves," he grinned. "But attempting not to show it."
    "You look confident," I told him positively.
    "I do?" he repled. "Good. Must be working then. How are you?"
    "The nerves aren't shaking me, they're ripping me apart," I groaned.
    "Pull yourself together," he told me. There was a silent pause, then I got the joke and laughed.
    Me and Cambric got in the same car on the way there and moaned about interviews and how stupid they were. We made some quite interesting points, some of which I'd love to tell people because they were quite valid, and others that were totally ridiculous. I was proud of the fact that me ans Cambric could actually get on well now.
    When we arrived, though, mvy nerves resurfaced. I felt sick, and everything was slightly unreal, as if in a dream. "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," I muttered to Cambric.
    "Actually, we have to fear death," he replied.
    "No, we have to fear the fear of death."
    "We have to fear both, because we should be afraid of death, because we're DYING."
    "Wow, you're really making me feel better."
    "You're welcome."
    We were lead to a room, where everyone sat down on chairs and waited until it was their turn. The Districts went in order, and it was the male of each District before the female, so I would be the sixteenth to be interviewed. Fifteen people before me.
    Cambric went to talk to the 12's, because he'd sort of met them a bit, but I knew I'd feel more awkward being with them than on my own, so I sat by myself like a loner, watching everyone else, trying to deduce facts about them and mostly failing.
    District one male went up. Fourteen to go before me.
    I couldn't think. I was so nervous, my thoughts kept flitting about. I wanted to distract them with something else, but my mind repeatedly returned to how I was going to die whenever I tried, and that was worse. I attempted to use it in a positive way, think that this interview was nothing compared to the arena and death, but then my insides twisted because I was going to experience both of them, and they would be terrible. I counted the Tributes as they went up. Thirteen more to go before me. Twelve. Eleven. I ran through what I had to do in my head.
    "Hello?" a person asked me.
    Yay! A distraction from thinking about my imminent doom! I could hear a band of trumpets jubilantly playing in my head whilst a huge crowd clapped and cheered.

  19. "Hi," I replied automatically, looking at the distraction.
    The distraction was Alvard, and with him was Christina.
    Awkwardness. It was better than interviews or death, though.
    "I was wondering if you wanted to be in an alliance with us?" Alvard asked me.
    Relief flooded my senses. "Yes," I said, nodding. "Cool. Um. Yes. Yes. Yes. Sorry, not making much sense. Ten."
    "Ten?" Alvard asked.
    "People to be interviewed before me," I explained.
    "Okay," he said. "Eight."
    "Not sure whether you're unluckier than me or luckier," I smiled, my brain still going WHAAAAAAAAAAAT? at the fact I was in an alliance.
    "Unluckier, you have more time to prepare," Christina complained.
    "But more time to be nervous," I pointed out. "I don't just have butterflies in my stomach, I have carnivorous butterflies that are eating me alive."
    "At least butterflies eat slowly," said Chrustina. "Or we'd all be dead."
    "Yeah," I nodded, not really having much else to say.
    "Guess . . . we'll be seeing you?" said Alvard.
    I nodded again. "See you."

  20. After they wandered off, I was left alone with my thoughts again, but everything was tinged with a slight golden layer now I had an alliance. Maybe butterflies were slightly allregic to gold, too.
    Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five.






    My name was called, and I hesistantly stood up and followed my guide onto the stage. Once there, I struggled to make the renainder of ny walk both confident and elegant. I think I failed.
    I sat down.
    "Well, hello, Star," Caesar greeted me. "How are things?"
    "Well, I'm fine other than the fact I'm about to die," I told him lightly. I hoped my face wasn't red. I felt very hot.
    "You might not die," he pointed out.
    "Maybe not, but I'll be happier if I think I'll die and I don't than if I think I won't and I don't." I wasn't really sure where I was going with this.
    "That is true," Caesar admitted.
    "Of course it is - are you suggesting I'd lie?"
    "Well, would you lie?"
    "What's the point of asking me when you don't know whether I'd reply with a lie or not? There is no point, and if it is, it's blunt. There's no point in a blunt point. It's existance is pointless."
    "Isn't that beside the point?" Caesar asked, which I was grateful for, because the audience were laughing. "Although you have to question how it can be beside the point when there is no point."

  21. I wasn't entirely sure the audience were following all this. Never mind, maybe they'd think I was smart. "Maybe it is nonexistant as well and can be nonexistantly beside the nonexistant point."
    "Does 'beside' exist in nonexistance?" Caesar made quotation marks with his fingers at the appropriate point.
    "I'm not sure nonexistance exists in nonexistance. Which means there's really no point in nonexistance, so the point can't really be there, which brings the question back to - where is the point? And what is the point? And is there any point in it?"
    "I imagine there's point in a point," Caesar pointed out.
    "But is there any point in there being point in a point?"
    "Maybe it's pointless, points being in points."
    "Maybe the points cancel each other out and take away the point."
    "Is there any point in that?"
    "Is there any point in points?"
    "Is there any point in anything?"
    "Well, there's no point in this conversation." Laughter.
    "Although I could point out, neither of us is being blunt."
    It was time to get off the stage, so I said goodbye to Caesar, told him I hoped he'd find a point to life, and left.
    I wasn't really sure I'd done anything useful here. I hadn't been funny. I hadn't been anything. But at least I'd done something, even if that something had no point. I thought people would remember me as Pointy Girl, too. Better than being forgotten.

    I was racing on the sands, trying to catch up to Bret’s sprinting body. “Bret!” I shouted but my voice made no noise. I saw two people emerge from the surf where my brother had just past; a man and a woman. The man had dark brown hair streaked with silver and the woman and the softest blonde hair I’d ever seen. “MUM! DAD!” I tried to shout again and when their feet hit the damp sand, they took off running towards Bret.
    I pumped my legs harder, trying to let them know that I was there. They were too quick. Their silhouettes started to merge into the pink horizon. I fell over and curled into a ball. “Please…” I begged and began to sob into the cupped hands.
    I don’t know how long I sat in the sand. I don’t remember when the water started lapping at my toes. I don’t remember seeing the sun set. I don’t remember anything other than the fact that I’d never see my family again.
    A familiar hand rested on my shoulder. “Hey, it’s okay. Be strong and brave. You’re beautiful.” Bret leaned down to kiss my cheek. “Be strong my sister. We’re always watching you and we are so, so proud.” His ice blue eyes, so similar to mine, twinkled in the moonlight and another hand sat on my shoulder, then another one.
    “We can’t believe you’re so strong.” My mum said and wrapped her thin arms around me.
    “You’re so amazing.” My dad said and mussed my hair. “I can’t believe you’re braver than I when I was you’re age, dear.” He smiled at me and patted my knee. “I’m so proud of you, we all are. Thank you so much. Oh, tell Simon a few things for me.” He leaned down to whisper in my ear. What he said made me giggle.
    “Dad,” Bret chimed in and shouldered him away. “Let her speak.”
    I smiled and opened my mouth to talk. “I love you all so-” But when tried to continue, I felt my head resting on my pillow, a blanket covering my body. They all smiled at me and then I was gone.

    I woke up feeling much happier than I had in weeks. I didn’t know what that dream meant, even if it was actually them but I hung onto the spark of hope it brought. They were watching. They were always watching over me like my own guardian angels.
    I threw my legs over the side of my bed and onto the ground. My bare feet seemed to absorb the coolness of the tiles like poison and soon, my legs were quivering. “Shoot…” I muttered and stood up, walking to where the fuzzy carpet covered the floor. That was better. The warmth slowly returned to my lower limbs and I grinned.
    I strode through the door, still in my black, spaghetti strap singlet and loose-fitting red sweat pants. I grabbed a small bunch of bananas, yogurt and some chocolate-y thing that looked like dried cake. I skipped over to the sofas and ate. Simon, noticing my cheery mood came over to sit by me. “So, you seem happy.” It was obviously an invitation for me to tell him why I was all smiles.
    “I had an amazing dream with my parents and Bret. They said they were proud of me.” I flashed him a grin. “Dad says ‘hi’ and ‘don’t forget to weed your carrots when you get back’.” Another giggle erupted from me and I stuffed my still-laughing mouth with the chocolate-y thing.
    Whatever it was, it was delicious. It was so sweet and yummy… I think I could’ve drooled if I wasn’t laughing and chewing at the same time.
    Once finished, I looked up at Simon’s confused face. That, unfortunately, made me laugh harder. His eyes were wide and he looked like a freshly speared fish. His pale lips were paler than normal and his usually tan face looked like he’d seen a ghost. Maybe he had… Dad was gone but he’d spoken to me.
    “How on Earth did you know about my carrots?” He asked after five or so slow minutes.
    I laughed. “I don’t know! That’s what he told me!” I grinned and stood up, slurping at my yogurt slightly.
    Simon pursed his lips, clearly stumped and pointed to my bedroom. “Lux is waiting and you know what she’s like when she’s impatient.” I didn’t actually know what me stylist was like when she was kept waiting.

  23. I shrugged and skipped to my room, grinning as I placed my dirty bowl on the table. I walked into my bright room – it was brighter than usual thanks to the massive lights someone had brought in – and looked around for Lux. I spotted her lavender hair first and then her gold bow sticking out of her bird’s nest styled hair. “Death! Where are you?!” I ran and jumped onto my black bed, hearing a hiss of disapproval as I accidently knocked over a tall lamp.
    Lux stormed up to me and grabbed my leg. I really don’t think she tried to make me fall over, but she did. I bounced twice and then flipped onto my feet.
    Lux was fuming, a strand of her coloured hair falling into her eyes. I was shocked that a piece of hair was that suicidal to fall out of place atop her head! “Yes Ms Tempest?” I grinned as I used her proper title.
    She gave me a very unamused glower and pushed me into the centre of the lights. “Ah!” I yelled jokingly, shielding my eyes from the brightness of the Evil Lights of Doom. “It burns! I’m burning!”
    I heard a few laughs from the people playing with the ELDs and I grinned. There was one person who didn’t laugh, who ground her teeth in frustration and growled. “Okay Lux,” I sighed and sat down in a spinny chair that had been seated in the centre of light.
    A man dressed head to toe in sea green smiled down at me. “We’re just seeing what we need to do with you under the spotlight.” He tilted my face one side and then to the other. “Okay. Lux! We need to…” That’s where I tuned out.

    Many slow and painful hours later, I was clean and sparkly. I was wearing a long blue dress that had large sequins acting as scales. Every sequin had green edging that faded into a deep blue in the centre. My face was covering in pinks, blues, greens and I think there was some black around my eyes and lips. “Can I look in the mirror yet?” I moaned for the thirty second time. For some unfathomable reason, Lux hadn’t let me look in the mirror while they were working on me. If it wasn’t for the eyebrow plucking, I would’ve fell asleep.
    Lux took a step back, the lid of whatever she was applying on my face stuck between her teeth and examined my face. “I think I’ve done…” She obviously wasn’t certain but I spun anyway and saw the face of a beauty in the reflection. My ice blue eyes were framed with long lashes that hid my dark blue eye shadow. My lips were, contrary to my earlier belief, red and pink around the edges. My face was flawless and a darker shade than normal. Just as I was about to ask why that was, Lux decided to read my thoughts.
    “Your skin is darker because under the really bright lights,” she clicked her fingers and looked behind her at where the Techos – I’d started calling them that after they pulled out funny little gadgets that shone with a blue light and talked about big words that I had no idea about. They jumped up and turned the ELD on. I groaned and Lux pulled a small hand-held mirror from a pocket of her purple dress. “See?”
    I did see. The colour on my face seemed to be absorbed by the white light. I blinked twice as I realized this is what I actually looked like. “Holy moley…” I muttered.
    Lux’s shoulders pulled back and she grinned. “You like?”
    I laughed in surprise. “No! No way do I like this!” He face fell and she looked down. She was about to speak when I interrupted her. “I freaking love it!”
    She laughed and went to muss my hair, thinking better of it at the last moment. She opened her mouth to say something but Simon peeked his head in. “We’ve got to go. Now!”
    I jumped up, being careful not to hurt my dress, and ran out under Simon’s arm that was braced on the side of the door. “Where to?” I asked and looked at my feet. Damn… Shoes! I ran back and Lux tossed me a pair of green sequin high heels. Thank God I knew how to run in them! Id practiced a bit when waiting for the Chariot Rides so I wouldn’t fall over as much.

  24. “Go down the elevator to the first floor and follow the crowd.” Simon said and I followed his instructions.

    I found myself in a room full of other Tributes. I located Eden quickly and smiled at his sparkly Tux. I’d go over to him once I’d found Tug though. I glanced along the line of Tributes, all in amazing gowns and tuxedoes that made me envious. There was one man in an amazing white tux that stood out against his russet skin in amazing contrast. “Tug!” I shouted and waved one arm over my head. “Here.”
    His dark eyes assessed my outfit before they raised to meet my face. “Hey, how are you?” He asked, stepping out of line and walking towards me. “Love the dress,” he commented, picking up one of my layers slightly. “Sparkly.”
    I smiled and laughed lightly. “Yeah, I’m nervous as a school of fish surrounded by sharks with a thunderstorm closin’ in.” I looked at his face to gauge his reaction. “And I love it. My designer did an amazing job.” I sent a mental prayer of thanks to Lux for her amazing job. “And your suit, ah, so amazing.” He grinned down at me and sent a friendly punch at my arm. Feelings in check! I yelled at myself in my head. Keep yourself to yourself. Don’t give in to your feelings!
    A man tapped us on the shoulder. “All Tributes back in order.” He told us, swishing his light green hair out of his silver eyes.
    Tug mouthed, “Good luck!” At me and I flashed him a small smile.
    I went to stand behind Eden and waited. Tributes went onstage and came off beaming. Eden went up and I mentally prepared myself. I flattened down my hair and patted my dress to get out the wrinkles.
    “And now, District Four’s female Tribute, Death Rose!” Caesar Flickerman’s voice boomed and a loud cheer erupted and I waltzed – there was no other word for how I walked – onstage with a dashing grin.
    Caesar was seated on a white swivel chair and there was an identical chair seated beside him. He grinned and me and gestured at me to sit down. I sat down as gracefully as I could and flicked my hair behind my ear. “Hi Caesar!” I said brightly.
    “Hello Death,” he replied. “How’s the Capitol treating you?”
    I laughed lightly. “I’m not going to sugar coat it,” I warned and then crossed my legs. “I have had a few rough nights.”
    He smiled and patted my closest knee. “No doubt. I’m sure we all saw you at the Reaping and that brings me onto my next question…” He paused and I put two and two together.
    “The shark attack?” I smiled and Caesar nodded. “It was two years ago in the winter. My father forgot to repay a debt to the baker and he went fishing. My brother and mother asked me to come with them and I refused because I hadn’t filled in my weekly quota of crab. So I stayed behind and they were…” The last word got stuck in my throat and I couldn’t breathe. Tears welled up in my eyes and I looked away.
    “I’m so very sorry Death,” he commented softly and I smiled sadly up at him.
    “I’m living with my uncle who really doesn’t care about me. So I’m the last Rose left in District Four.” I laughed again as the realization hit me.
    Caesar nodded with pursed lips. “So, I’m sure we’re all wondering if your uncle came to see you off.” There were a few cheers of agreement from the crowd and he nodded.
    “Nope, only my older brother’s best friend came to see me. His name is Demon Fire.” I smiled in the camera, knowing he’d see what I was doing. “He’s amazing!”

  25. “I could only imagine so.” He said happily. “Is there anything we should know about you before the Games?”
    I smiled gently and looked towards the crowd of Capitol citizens. “I’ll try my hardest to win for my family and nothing will stand in my way! I’m going to win this thing for my District! I’m going to do anything I can to make my dream come true!” My voice had rose and I had jumped to my feet. I felt like I was leading a small revolution of my own. My voice had taken on a passionate tone and I could hear people cheering and I smiled at them. I looked back at Caesar and saw him grinning up at me.
    “So there we have it!” He called over my cheering crowd. “Death Rose from District Four!”
    I curtsied and waved before walking offstage, beaming like the rest of the Tributes who had walked off the same stage.


  26. Interview

    I woke up; it was the day of the interviews. Today was my last chance to gain sponsors, the last day to make an alliance.

    I had made no real friends so far and that wasn’t going to help me in the games. Christina was the closest to a real friend I had, but she was still irritating to be around.

    I thought of all of this as I stood in the hot shower. Even as I was drying off this was going threw my head. I walked downstairs into the dining room, only to bump into the girl from district 8, the one I saw shooting the bow.

    “Sorry.” I said as I tried walking passed her.

    She grabbed my shoulder and I tensed.

    “I saw you throwing the knives the other day. You are really good at that.”

    “Um… thanks.” I said nervously. I was never the best at making friends.

    She stuck out her hand, ”I’m Star Inkbright. I reckon that you are Alvard Nemesis. ‘

    I stuck out my hand and we shook “Correct, I’m Alvard Nemesis.

    She ended the conversation “Well it was nice meeting you.”

    I walked in the dining room and got an omelet and ate it. When I was done I found my stylist and mentor waiting for me. Christine was also in there with her stylist.

    They closed the door as I walked in.

    “Guys, while you guys are not making friends other’s good be plotting your death. You need an alliance. You will need some help in The Games,” stated Sepp.

    “It’s not that e----,” I was cut off by Sepp.

    “It is easy if you try.”

    Then my stylist touched my arm to take me to the same room where I got that amazing outfit before. Christine’s mentor did the same thing.

    When we got there he told me to strip my clothes off and lay down. I did what I was told and laid there as he inspected my cold naked body.

    He looked to be talking to himself but I couldn’t hear.

    He took out a razor, and started to trim my chest and stomach. He then started to shave my face. When he was done he started too put a little make-up on me. Many that I didn’t know, was applied. After that he showed me my suit.

    “Look at this beauty, took me forever to make. “

    It was a normal suit and I didn’t know what was so special.

    “Turn your head,” he instructed.

    I did and saw that, just like the last one this one turned into a train conductor outfit. Not only that but when it did, there was a button that I pressed that made a noise.


    “I love it,” I say as I put my clothes back on.

    “One hour until show time. Go get ready.”

    I rushed upstairs and into the hot moist shower where I stood soaking in all of the heat. Inside I thought of how I would answer the awesome Ceaser Flickerman’s questions.

    When I was finished I walked out and put on my clothes that my stylist made for me only too find Sepp waiting for me.

    “We need to talk strategy in your interviews?”

    “How should I act?” I questioned.

  27. “Be mysterious, and act like you are filled with confidence.”

    “Mysterious and confidence. Do you think I could get sponsers from doing that?”

    “Yes I do.”

    “Hurry up the interviews are starting soon!” He continued.

    I walked away and dreaded that moment when the Interviews would begin.

    I stood in line waiting for my interview. I heard them introduce the boy from District 1 Cieran Sever.

    Many people were in front of me, and it would be a long time until my interview. I decided to make the mot of this moment and have a little chat with somebody.

    I saw the girl from district 8 that I bumped into earlier, Star Inkbright. I walked behind her and tapped her on the shoulder.

    "Hello?" I asked her as a band of trumpet began too play.
    "Hi," She replied automatically.

"I was wondering if you wanted to be in an alliance with us?" I asked her.
 I saw all stress from her body removed.

    "Yes," she said, nodding her head in agreement. "Cool. Um. Yes. Yes. Yes. Sorry, not making much sense. Ten."

    "Ten?" I asked. 
"People to be interviewed before me," Star explained.

    "Okay," I said. "Eight."
"Not sure whether you're unluckier than me or luckier," a smile broke across her face.

"Unluckier, you have more time to prepare," Christina complained.

    "But more time to be nervous," I pointed out. "I don't just have butterflies in my stomach, I have carnivorous butterflies that are eating me alive."

    "At least butterflies eat slowly," said Christina. "Or we'd all be dead."

    "Yeah," I nodded, not really having much else to say.
"Guess . . . we'll be seeing you?" . She nodded again. "See you."

    Christina was just ending her interview, she was doing perfect. A nagging thought entered my mind.

    What will I say? How will I respond?

    “Alvard Nemesis!” I heard my name being called up with a round of cheers.

    I walked with elegance and sat down next to Mr. Flickerman as a round of gasps entered the room over my outfit.

    “Hello Alvard and congratulations on your 5 in private training. And a wonderful job your stylist did!”

    “Ehh,” I shrugged. “I think I could have done better. Too me that was a mediocre score, I know, he is amazing when it comes too clothes.”

    “Ooh,” Caesar gasped. “You think you can do better than you showed the gamemakers. Why not showing us some moves here.”

    I moved over and whispered loudly in Caesar’s ear so the audience can hear,” I don’t want too show. I’m determined too stun everybody.”

    “Well could it be knife-throwing? Or using swords? Or bows and arrows? Is that your secret?”

    I shook my head, now out of his ear. “No, I have more tricks up my sleeves.” I knew though that I really didn’t.

    “Now on to a different issue. The Reaping. What encouragment did my family give you?”

    “Failure is not an option,” I stated bluntly.

    “When they called your name, what did you think?

    “Many emotions. I was somewhat relieved that I can show my parents that I learned from their teachings. I was somewhat scared though, knowing I could die in the games.”

    “I don’t think you will die,” stated Caesar. “Actually, you may be the one I am betting on!”

    “Thanks Caesar. That money will not be wasted.”

    “We all know how important alliances are in this game. Do you have any friends yet?”

    “As a matter of fact I do, but I will not share a name. When everybody finds out that will be the day of the games. A little trick is coming.”

    “Do you think you can win these games Alvard?”

    “I have no doubt about it.”

    The buzzer sounded announcing the end of the interview.

    “And there was the wonderful Alvard Nemesis!”

    I walked off of the stage, moving one step closer too the beginning of the games.