|This article, Panic(Crippled Series), was written by Necterine411. Please do not edit this fan fiction without the author's permission.|
Panic is the 6th chapter of Crippled. It follows the panic the tributes feel as they face the last training day. It also has Lucy telling Evi what will happen to her if she wins the Games.There will be multiple point of views.
I’m so stupid. I let the deaf girl see what I could really do, instead of my weak act. Maybe she’s forgotten, or won’t realize I’m faking, but I’m not so sure. I fling myself on my bed with a huff. Nathan’s done his part and more, and I’ve managed to almost blow my cover. There’s no time for mistakes now, not when the Games are fast approaching. Not when today’s the last training day. I hear a knock at my door. I pick up my crutch and walk to the door. By now I’ve gotten used to having one crutch and I can move almost as fast as any other tribute. When I open the door I see Lucy. The last time I saw her she told me to die in the Games. Without speaking she gives me a pill and motions for me to swallow it. I do, and I immediately feel awful. Lucy picks up a nearby trash can and puts it under me as I throw up. She leads me to the bed and almost immediately I black out.
The main training instructor finishes talking and I hear a clattering of feet as tributes rush to learn what they can in their final days. My friend, Matza my mentor said her name was, is on my left. Jay is on my right. Both of them wait for me to pick a station. I won’t learn that much; and what I do won’t be that useful. Who cares if I can fight with a knife if I can’t see any threats I’d use it against? Who cares about edible plants if I’ll never see the vibrant colors on the berries I’m told not to eat? But I don’t want to die. I’m terrified at the thought of dying. There’s so many ways for me to be killed, most of them painful. That’s what I admire about Jay and Matza. They’re so fearless. Matza doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, and Jay openly speaks about his upcoming death with barely a shake in his voice. Matza nudges me slightly, and Jay’s arm brushes against mine. They stay by my side as I start to walk. They keep me safe.
While the tributes are training I’m stuck in a room full of potential sponsors. All of them are trying to speak at once.
“Why should I sponsor some cripple?”
“Has the boy’s cough been looked into?”
“Rumor has it that the boy is in the Careers. Can you confirm this?”
“Where did you get your hair done?”
I take a deep breath, as the escort for District 8 before me taught me to do. I brighten my ever present smile and answer the best I can.
“Nathan’s cough has stopped lately, although no official doctor visit has happened. While I cannot confirm or deny his strategy and possible allies, he has shown great skill with a sword.” I give a pointed look at the teenage girl who asked about my hair. She’s probably some rich kid, enjoying a day of betting with her parent’s money. But because I was once that person too, I answer the question. “My hair was done at the little salon across from Shine Plaza. It’s right next to the restaurant where the 5th Hunger Games victor went to eat on her victory tour.”
I collect my thoughts before speaking about Evi. As special as she may be, the sponsors will have a hard time looking over her unfortunate leg. No matter what I say, most won’t care. If only Lucy was here doing this like she was supposed to. But no, she just had to go missing just minutes before the potential sponsors arrived. I wouldn’t be surprisd if she was off with another guy. She went off with one willingly enough yesterday when, just as the other man before her did, he showed her a slip of paper. Now I’m stuck trying to convince a room of people to sponsor a girl whose strategy is to seem as weak as possible. If she gets any gift it will be a miracle. I hear several impatient coughs. I need to speak now, or I’ll lose them.
“The girl, Evi, has an injured leg its true. But she can move just as fast as any other, and despite what training score she may get, she’s extraordinarily talented with a knife. Why, just last night I caught her practicing with a knife in her room. She was throwing it at the wall and hitting the same place every time!”
This is a lie, of course. I have no idea what Evi can do with a knife, besides cut her food into pieces. But the sponsors look satisfied with this answer and many of them fill out the sponsoring applications I’ll give to Lucy so she can finalize them. One by one they all leave and I sink down to the thickly carpeted floor as soon as the door closes behind the last person. It’s then when I notice the slip of paper on the floor. It’s the same one that man showed Lucy. She must have dropped it in her hurry to leave. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t resist peeking at the only thing that can control Lucy. My hand reaches out and grabs the paper.
Random District 7 tribute
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. I can’t do this. I’m going to die. I don’t want to die. I can’t stop my hands from shaking as the instructor tries to tell me how to start a fire. I’m so bad at it, she’s given me some paper to try and start it easier. Not that’s it’s helping. I crumple it up and a boy drops to floor and starts screaming.
“STRAIGHTEN THE PAPER! STRAIGHTEN THE PAPER!”
I think something’s wrong with his head. If he’s going to win the Games, he needs toughening up. So I snatch another piece of paper from the instructor and crumple it too. He screams louder and leaps at me. I’m ready for him. As he comes close I punch him in the face. His District partner sees and yells “Leave him alone!” She tries to get at me too, and soon every tribute is taking sides. I see instructors snatching up all the weapons to lock away as someone calls for peacekeepers. The girl runs and hits me. Then all heck breaks loose.
She doesn’t know. There’s no reason she would, but it breaks my heart that I’ll be the one to tell her the truth. That she was cursed the moment she was put in the Games, that even winning will provide no escape. Evi moves a little and I can tell she’ll wake up soon. I stare at her face and try to remember a time where my problems could be solved as simply as killing 23 other kids. Now I’m not even sure killing a hundred people would help. The Capitol has a way of easily replacing any person who’s killed. Besides, I’ve killed more than enough people. I’m not sure I could stand seeing one more face in my dreams, composed as if they’re still sleeping, even after their cannon has sounded.
Evi mutters something in her sleep, and I freeze until she falls back into the sleepy grasp of the drug I gave her. Maybe I should have given her a smaller dose. At least I have the time to think about what to tell her. How can I explain the things she will be forced to do if she wins? How can I describe what it’s like to be continuously haunted by the guilt that comes from being the reason your parents are killed? How can I make her understand the horror of living in a world where, if you say no once, your little sister will die? I can’t. I’ve never been good with words; I’ve never been that brave. It’s easy to kill at night, to take advantage of tribute’s need for sleep. It’s easy to listen to Lexi’s lectures, and nod without saying a word. It’s hard to be honest; to tell some random girl the secret I’ve never revealed to anyone. But I’ll do it, not for her, but for my conscience. If I try to help one more tribute enter the nightmare of being a victor, I just might crack. It takes a lot of pills to dull the pain of watching 23 kids die each year. It takes even more to wish for District 8’s tributes to die; even if it’s the best option for them. Evi moves once more. I know she’s minutes away from waking up.
I shove Alexandria in a corner and Matza and I use our bodies to form a wall of protection from all the fighting. I hear the distant thud of Peacekeeper boots. I still wonder if they’ll make it here before someone is killed. The boy who started it all is taking on two people at once, and he’s losing badly. One evil looking tribute is beating another boy over and over again, and ignoring his cries for mercy. Only the Careers and Matza, Alexandria and I have stayed out of it. A tribute throws a chunk of firewood and Matza can’t quite move before it hits her. The rough bark scratches her face, and she flinches before crouching down on the ground. I do the same as a tribute unleashes the bugs from the poisonous bug station. They fly everywhere, causing even more chaos. The Peacekeepers are almost here, they’re maybe seconds away from bursting open the door. I’m not sure what will happen when they do arrive. Matza and I both throw our bodies over Alexandria’s as the doors are banged open. I suddenly realize something. Evi's gone.
I can’t move, my body has been paralyzed by shock. Even my mind seems to be effected, my thoughts are made up of fragments and words, strung together to express one emotion—shock. The paper is clutched between my index finger and thumb, and I read it again for the hundredth time, all the while hoping I’m wrong, that there was some mistake.
Dear Ms. Needle,
You are to be this man’s escort for the night. As always, do anything he asks. I don’t think I have to remind you what will happen to your sister if you refuse. I’m watching you.
I remember every lecture, every word accusing Lucy of being irresponsible. It’s not hard to imagine what the note means by “do anything he asks”. Poor Lucy. I remember when I first became an escort, and was convinced I knew everything just because I saw that the Districts should be pitied. I didn’t know the half of it. What will I ever say to Lucy? How can I tell her what I know without getting her sister killed? How can I live with the guilt and never apologize? I feel a touch of the weight Lucy must feel every day. It’s terrible, knowing such an awful ting and never telling anyone. I think to all the Hunger Games I watched so excitedly, loving the thought of a simple District citizen getting endless riches and happiness. I wonder, do they suffer like Lucy? I don’t know how the Capitol could ever do this. I just don’t understand. An avox walks in and I pick myself off the ground. They give me a note, and for a moment I am comforted in knowing it can’t be worse than Lucy’s note. I read it quickly, and that comfort vanishes. There’s just one simple sentence, but it spells out disaster. “Fight in the training center, come immediately.”
I smile as the peacekeepers stun anyone fighting. If you could call that pathetic display fighting. I lean back against the wall and casually throw my arm across Alison. As I expected, she gives me a tiny smile. Her cheeks are just a tad redder. She’s just another heart to break.
I’ve never seen Lucy this broken. Even in the minutes before she’s had her pills, she has never sat with her so back hunched, her face covered by her unwashed hair, and her eyes downcast. A droplet falls on her pants from under her face, and I’m shocked to realize she’s crying. Is she going to apologize for telling me to die? But why would she drug me to tell me that? I’m confused, and still a little weak from whatever Lucy drugged me with. Maybe I should say something, but if Lucy wants to tell me something so badly, she can do it herself. After a little while, Lucy speaks.
“Evi, I’m not sorry about what I said. I’m only sorry that I didn’t tell you why you should die in the Games. Being a Victor is not as good as you think. If you become one, you’ll be forced to-”
Lucy is interrupted when Lexi bursts into the room. Without even looking up from her schedule, she begins to speak to me.
“Evi dear, I know you aren’t feeling well so I came to check on you. There was a fight in the training center, but don’t worry, Nathan’s fine. No other tribute was killed, which is good considering the injuries of one boy.”
Lexi finally looks up to see Lucy, and I prepare myself for a lot of yelling. But instead a tortured sob escapes from Lexi, and she hugs Lucy tightly as tears slip out of her eyes. Lucy tenses, drawing back from Lexi in a small motion that doesn’t discourage her at all. My head throbs, partly from my confusion and partly from the drugs, and I settle my head against a pillow with the tiniest of sighs. Lexi immediately releases Lucy to look at me. Her emotions, so raw and human before, have been smoothed back into a mask of a bubbly and care-free escort. I never noticed before how fake it looks, or maybe this is the first time Lexi has faked her cheerful smile. Lucy stares at Lexi for a moment, and when Lexi notices she begins to explain.
“Lucy, I saw the note. You left it behind. Oh Lucy, why didn’t you tell me what the Capitol was making you do?”
A squeak escapes Lucy’s lips at the mention of the note, and she puts her hand over Lexi’s mouth to silence her. I wonder what the Capitol is making her do. Lucy’s always being taken somewhere by a variety of men, but would the Capitol do… that to their victors? A voice in my head says a strong yes, but if I believe that then I’ve lost any fragment of hope I still posses. It was like time was frozen, that I had all the time in the world to make the choice of whether or not to believe Lucy. Lucy’s struggle to keep Lexi quiet seemed distant, like I was watching it on tv. For a moment, I thought of taking Lucy’s advice. I thought of dying in the Games on purpose, because winning wasn’t as great as it seems. I thought of sacrificing myself to save someone, anyone, and dying a hero. But then my instincts take over, reminding me that death is permanent and Lucy’s struggles (IF they are true), wouldn’t apply to me. Who would want to be with a cripple? I grab my crutch, my only trusted supporter, and get up from my bed. Lucy’s an addict, a druggie. She doesn’t know anything. While Lucy whispers to Lexi about hidden cameras, I walk out of the room. I need to train. I need to win.
The training room is in shambles. Bodies of tributes lie on the ground, and only when I see they are still breathing do I let out the breath I’ve been holding. Of course the Capitol wouldn’t kill the tributes, who would be in the Games if they did? A peacekeeper walks up to me and takes my elbow, leading me to a corner of the room in which the tributes that didn’t fight are being kept. I’m relieved to see Nathan there. An urge to run to Nathan, and tell him all the troubles I’ve had today strikes me, and only the unforgiving glares of the other Careers stop me. There’ll be plenty of time to talk to him later. Only three other non-Career tributes are in the corner, the deaf girl, the blind girl, and Jay. I consider walking over to him, but when he tenderly brushes a strand of hair from the blind girl’s face I freeze. To interrupt whatever is going on between him and that girl would evil, considering the precious little amount of time they have left together. I am alone, but the fact troubles me very little. I have always been alone; will most likely always be alone. My only two friends, Nathan and Jay, will die if I live. I lean against the wall and slide down it until I’m on the ground. The other tributes are just waking up; I can hear their groans as they start to move. Many have bruises, some have cuts. All have been weakened. They're sent to the infirmary, where the Capitol medicine will erase their cuts and bruises like nothing ever happened. I glance at my leg. Some things are unfixable.
My stomach grumbles, and I look at the clock and sigh. Its past lunchtime, and I never even had breakfast. It’s just another thing that’s Lucy’s fault. A tiny voice tells me I should feel bad for abandoning Lucy like that. It’s easy to ignore, I just count up everything she’s done to hurt me over the years. She’s drugged herself until she couldn’t speak, much less give advice. She’s left without warning, leaving us to deal with Lexi countless times. She’s drugged me. She’s kept me from my last day of training. She’s made me miss lunch and dinner. She’s told me to die. Most of all, she tried to destroy the hope that is the only thing besides my crutch that I can count on. How can she expect me to listen to her, to give up my life, if she can barely act like a mentor? Things might have been different if, when I first saw her, she’d told me. Now her crimes of the past against me have bound my opinion until even the greatest good deed couldn’t change it. So even as the last of the tributes emerge from the infirmary, completely healed, my only thought about Lucy is one that wonders if she’ll still be a good mentor while I’m in the arena. Even though the training center is heated, I feel cold. I stand near a vent for a few minutes, until the chill leaves.
Calla Summers (D4)
Alison’s busy flirting with Eli, and Nathan’s talking to my District 4 partner. I have no idea where the District 1 tributes are. I swear, I’m the only true Career here. I narrow my eyes as a peacekeeper walks by. Did he help my friend Revelyn when she was here? Or did he continue to act like the lazy bum he is. I squeeze the knife in my hand before throwing it straight at the peacekeeper. It bangs right off his helmet, and I pick up another knife and tap it thoughtfully against my chin. The peacekeeper walks faster to the other side of the training center, where he gives orders to the avoxes, probably to clean up the last remnants of the fight this morning. I hate avoxes. I just know the one in charge of helping Revelyn did something to her while she slept. So when an avox walks by me with a box in her hand, I only glance around once to make sure nobody’s watching me before following her. The hallway’s deserted, and within minutes I’ve shoved her into a closet, with me following. Looking at her face I see she’s my avox, she was probably Revelyn’s as well. I still have a knife in my hand, and I raise it so the avox can see it. Her eyes widen in fear and I smile. “This is because of Revelyn”, I say as I shove the knife into the avox’s chest. I creep out of the closet and sneak back into the training room. No one’s noticed my absence. Even if they find out what I did, I know they won’t care. She’s just an avox.
Alison Bront (D2)
I twirl around with my sword, cutting off a training dummy’s head while I do. Tomorrow when we demonstrate our skills and get our training scores, even more people will love me. If I combine all my followers in District 2 with the large amount of sponsors I’m sure to receive; I’ll be drowning in presents the whole Games. The District 1 girl congratulates me on my sword fighting skills. She isn’t too bright, but as the mayor’s daughter she convinced people to vote her in. Naturally, I’ve taught her to worship me. The District 1 guy was much easier to convince, even bringing me flowers at one point. But I ignore him. Eli Gret, my District partner and known heartbreaker, is flirting with me. As the District 1 boy approaches me with what looks like a poem, I shove him out of my way and walk up to the spear station, where Eli’s preparing to throw a spear. “Don’t miss!” I yell, right as he throws it. The spear misses the target, almost hitting the training instructor. Both of us laugh. Yes, I’ve got Eli right where I want him.
They’ll all die; every single one of them. The ones that foolishly overlooked me will be the first to go, suffering in their knowledge that a single underestimation of my skills has killed them. And when I return home, I’m going to walk right up to the mayor’s wife and tell her that I don’t need her. It’s hard, knowing you were not a twin with a now dead brother; but a triplet. It’s harder watching you sister receive the benefits of being the mayor’s daughter, while living your whole life in an orphanage. None of that matters now. I’ll do whatever it takes to get better conditions, even kill. After all, I’ve killed before. I’ve never told anyone this, but I never forget anything. This is why I can remember, with a sharp clarity, the night I killed my brother, when we were both barely one year olds. I disliked the orphanage, where I never got enough food. Of course, my brother ate up food that could go to me. He had to go. We shared a crib, it was almost too easy. I rolled against him, pressing him against the blankets and crib bars, until he suffocated. I heard the caretaker the next day, talking about what a tragic accident it was, while feeding me what used to be my brother’s share of the food. I’ve read about a type of person, a psychopath, who doesn’t feel emotions. Maybe I’m one. I don’t cry when someone in a Hunger Games dies, sometimes I cheer. I don’t care about anyone else’s feelings, only that I am taken care of. Maybe that’s being a psychopath, but if it is then every person in the Capitol must be one too. So what if I don’t have emotion, if I cry only when it will help build trust or create a fake “connection”? So what if I betray Evi, when she’d probably die in a much more painful way if I didn’t kill her? So what if I fake a cough, because people in the District are more likely to give you money if you act weak? Call me a psychopath. But I’m a survivor, anything or anyone else doesn’t matter.
So, in conclusion:
Lexi and Lucy have a better understanding, there was a fight between the tributes but pretty much all of them were healed, Alison and Eli are both trying to pretend to like one another and break the other person's heart, Evi's decided that Lucy's nothing more than a druggie, and Nathan's a crazy psychopath. Gee, this is starting to sound like a soap opera...
The next chapter will be only from Evi's point of view.