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|-| ♢Smiles In Nightmares♢=

Prologue

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Inside a gargantuan hospital room full of scintillating light which was emitted from cylinders fixed into the shallow ceiling, sat a young boy by his mother, who was holding an infant on a sterile bed. Beside her was a handsome adult in his mid-30s. Monitors filled the room and swept the eerie silence out the door, only to replace it with sinister beeping. The mother reached to take the boy's hand and seized it with passion. She squeezed tightly. He squeezed tighter. The Monitors' drone seemed to fill the boy with dread, and hopeless emptiness. The man, who was once at the mother's side, had taken the infant into his arms and had walked over to the door. "It's time, Gavin. The doctors need us out of the room." But the boy only shook his head in disgust at the man for walking out so easily. He looked over to his mother only to find she was sleeping. The once patient man was now shouting, his voice stern and somewhat panicked. "Gavin, if you don't get your little butt outside of this door right now, you and I, are going to have a few problems." Gavin squeezed his mother's hand before arousing from his position on the wooden chair. When she didn't squeeze back, like she had earlier, he clutched her hand once more, tighter this time then in the past. She still didn't respond. Suddenly, the monitors' singing dropped to a low, hollow, persistent buzzing. Gavin didn't have time to ask what was wrong before the man had picked him up by the waist, holding the infant loosely in the other arm, and ran both of the children out the door as doctors with large, ghastly equipment rushed in. 

"Arron," Gavin asked the man, his voice high and dismal. "what's wrong with Mom?" The man did nothing but spank the child, without care or genuine responsibility, for he just wanted something to take his anger out on. When the doctors came out, their heads lowered, their masks dangling below their chins, their hair tangled and sloppy, that's when he knew. His butt now raw from the spankings his stepfather gave him, the corners of his mouth dropped, his baby sister screaming in his stepfather's arms, he knew now, that his mother, was dead.

Chapter One

~6 Years Later~

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A hammering coming from the other side of my bedroom door woke me up that foggy morning. I groaned, gathering my scattered mind, and realized that it was my first day of school this year. I was now in 11th grade. I curse under my breath before arousing from under my navy blue bedspread and throwing on a dark gray T-shirt. I sigh, throwing miscellaneous school supplies into my rugged backpack. After throwing on appropriate clothing, dark blue jeans and a shirt in better condition than the gray one, I sling my bag over my shoulder and drag my feet into my sister's room. "Sarah," I whisper, only loud enough to wake her from her gentle slumber. "Get up, please. It's your first day of school and we don't want to be late." She nods, grunts, and slowly uncovers herself from under the thick princess comforter, revealing a pink, rugged, cotton nightgown. I leave the room, shutting the door gently, careful not to anger my short-tempered stepfather, to allow Sarah to dress properly for public. I walk back into my room, seizing my blackberry cell from my chipped wooden nightstand and throwing it into my backpack. Waiting for Sarah to dress and brush her hair, I run to the bathroom to comb my hair and brush my teeth. There on the sink lies my blue toothbrush, bristles crooked and worn from daily use. I grasp it in my hand, squeeze a little toothpaste onto the bristles, and begin to brush my teeth.

Looking in the mirror is something I rarely do, yet here I am, staring at my reflection. My complexion unsettled; my hair brown hair ruffled; my freckles arranged in a disturbed array; my brown eyes, timid. I look like my mother. Her brown eyes apprehensive, her brown hair unbrushed, her splattered freckles. I shake my head, clearing the memory.

From the bathroom I hear a drunken shout. "Sarah! I swear, touch my whiskey bottle again, and you won't be so quick to explore any time soon!"

An internal scream sparks my audacious will, and I run from the bathroom to the small, dim livingroom where Sarah stands, 10 yards from Arron, blushing and ready to cry. "Arron, yell at her again, and then you won't be so quick to shout any time soon." I say trying to sound sedulous.

He slams his beer down onto the round table with his left hand and pushes himself up, from his sitting position at the kitchen table, with his right. Shuffling over to me, he raises a hand. I stand, ready for the punishment he has to offer me this time.

Sarah runs to cling onto my leg, in a desperate cry of sentiment before Arron puts a foot forward and slaps my freckled cheek with his left hand. He then leans in real close, his breath and skin smelling of booze, and shouts in my ear, "You threaten me again, boy, and you'll get more than a mere slap on the face. Understand?"

I nod.

"UNDERSTAND?"

"Yes, Arron," I mutter, using everything I have to refrain from ripping his head off.

"Good. Now, off to school with you both."

I nod and put my arm around Sarah's petite frame, grabbed her backpack and felt to see mine was still on my shoulder, and guided her out the door onto the sidewalk. We walk in silence most of the way, for seeing me get slapped by Sarah's father is hard for her to understand. She hardly understands that Arron is only my stepfather, not my real dad. I sigh, the autumn air starting to show as it turns our breaths to white puffs.

"Are you alright, Sarah?" I ask, returning to my routine of acknowledging Sarah's peace.

Silence.

"I'm okay, really. It doesn't even hurt anymore."

"You just love getting hurt, though, don't you," She squealed, her voice squeaky and terrified."You always try to stick up for me, but you can't so you always get hurt, and I can't stop it! I can't stop it, Gavin!"

I stop walking to crouch down and give her a tight squeeze. I whisper, "I love you, Sarah. That's all that matters."

She doesn't answer, but instead waits for me to release her of the tight hug to resume walking. I sigh and begin walking after her. I stop when there's a faint tap on my shoulder blade. I turn, curious and slightly scared of what I may find. Behind me stands the beautiful character which just so happens to be my eerie, yet kind, girlfriend, Delphi. I greet her with a gentle kiss, brushing back the stray hairs that cover her complexion. Sarah has turned back to watch, her face reading disgust at the sight of mine and Delphi's "hello". However, it doesn't take her long to smile and continue walking towards her elementary school.

I reach over and carefully grab Delphi's hand, interweaving my fingers with hers as she looks at me and smiles before frowning again and tearing her gaze to stare at the morning sunrise. "You got beaten again this morning, didn't you."

"No," I respond. "Only slapped."

She left her hand in mine, but didn't answer until we had gotten to school. "You better be careful before he does something seriously terrible, Gavin." She stretched and stood on to tiptoes to brush my freckled cheek with her lips before breaking away to head to class.

I sigh and catch sight of Marcus in the teen-cluttered hallway.

I speed over toward him, acquiring his attention with my speech, "Hey, dude. How was your summer?"

"Pretty great, I guess."

"Yeah, have you seen Trevor, or how about Kylee?"

"Umm, nope, I think Trevor's first class is math though."

I nod, now having a reason to be excited for first period math. The bell rings and Marcus breaks away just before the hallway is painted with running teens with binders containing loose, unmarked, papers. I sigh, not sure whether to hope the day ends quickly so I can walk Delphi home sooner, or hope it's stretched out so I can avoid Arron longer.

Chapter Two

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The day had gone by quickly, which I guess I was happy about since I'd get to take Delphi home sooner. Me, Kylee, Delphi, and Marcus all had science last period and had all decided to sit at a table together. The teacher, Mr. Leckbetter had begun to call role when a few rowdy boys in the back corner of the room began to speak to each other in boisterous tones. Mr. Leckbetter looked at them, his eyes containing displeasure and disappointment. He resumed his task once they got the message and shut up. He got through the roll call list of names quickly and easily and began into the lesson. I didn't listen to much of his curriculum though, for I was busy staring at Delphi's beautifully focused complexion and how her eyebrows slightly tilted inward while she took notes. Her thick, blonde hair cascaded over her slender shoulders like a cataract. Her light blue painted nails reflected the light emitted from the ceiling. She's perfect in every. single. way. I continued to study her, absorbing every flawless crease. Although, every once and awhile Marcus or Kylee would give me a look of bewilderment, but I didn't mind. I'm just lucky enough to call Delphi my one and only girlfriend.

After the lesson was over, Mr. Leckbetter had stopped his droning about parent meetings and project plans, and the bell had rang Delphi, Kylee, Marcus, and I stood and I took Dephi's hand once again. I think we were all pleased with how the first day of school went for us, as teens in Eleventh Grade. I let Marcus and Kylee go ahead and leave ahead of me and Delphi. My hand holding tightly to hers, we walked slowly, our connected arms swinging back and forth, back and forth.

Once we get outside, the weather was colder than it was earlier that morning. Gray clouds covered covered the sun like angry puffs of smoke. The lack of sunlight chilled the late autumn air and I was thankful I had a hoodie, even if it was in poor condition. That’s when Delphi shivered. I give an internal sigh, before releasing her hand to put down my small backpack onto the sidewalk, and take off my hoodie, revealing my long sleeved, bright red cotton shirt. I kindly hand it to my shivering girlfriend, who paused to deliberately watch me remove my sweatshirt and offer it to her. The argumentative spark in her eyes suggested she almost declined the sweatshirt. However, her mouth spoke otherwise.

Placing down her white backpack on the narrow sidewalk as I pick mine up, she speaks in a low whisper. “Thank you, Gavin, but you could have kept it.” She then pushed her arms through the sleeves and neatly put the hoodie over her beautiful, white blouse.

“Come here,” I say, smiling at and quite amused by her lack of thanks. She throws her backpack over her shoulder and takes a step closer to me. Her eyes seem to focus on the tall grass behind my back, instead of me. I inhale the start of a shaky breath, trying to cover it by closing my mouth and finishing the exhale through my nose. I look Delphi in her deep, sky-colored eyes and stand there like that for a while. Then I slowly bend down and touch my lips to hers. My hand sweeps away her hair and lands on her neck under her right ear.

I’m afraid I’m doing something wrong, until a couple moments later, she begins to give in to the kiss and follows suit. We stand there, kissing on the sidewalk on a chilly autumn day for what felt like only a few, too-short moments. She then pulls back, taking my hand recklessly and running while pulling me behind her. I smile and begin to give in to her obscure plan, regaining my balance and running after her.

After running a few blocks, we stand in front of Delphi’s house. Our noses and cheeks a faded pink, and our bodies in the beginning of a sweat. She unlocks the door to her house with a key, which she pulls from the side pocket of her backpack. She walks through the door and into the entryway. She throws her backpack onto the ground and runs into her room.

This isn’t my first time here. I inhale deeply and begin to smell the warm aroma of cinnamon. It’s how Delphi’s house has smelled like since she moved in 11 years ago. I sigh, not sure if the memories with Delphi and my mother in the same room bring regret or dismal feelings, but I just shrug. I shuffle after Delphi and walk into her room to find her sitting on her bed. She had kicked off her black Nikes in the corner of her room and has waited patiently on her teal bedspread ever since.

I begin to walk over to her lithe frame, positioned on the bed, when she crosses her arms and pulls up on my sweatshirt, thus taking it off. She throws it into the corner, smiling, as it landed perfectly on top of her shoes. Sunlight comes in beams through the window, making Delphi look even more radiant. I can’t help but want to lean back in and kiss her, but before I get the chance, she stands and comes toward me. Kicking her door shut with her foot, she gently closes her eyes and locks her lips with mine. Adrenaline surges through me as I fall into her and do the same.

I take her face in my hand and hold it steady. I feel her tremble and know she is as scared as me, if not more. We’ve dated 9 months, and just recently started kissing. It still sends butterflies fluttering in my stomach. I push the sick feeling away and attempt to replace it with mere happiness as Delphi grips my sides with her fingertips and I move my arms to hold her slender form tightly. Her hands move to my neck and mine hold tightly to her shoulders. I find myself pushing her passionately to her light gray wall. She hits it with a harder thud than I expected, but she doesn’t seem to notice. Her hands run through my hair and I can’t help but want her more. That’s when the wall behind us shudders and an adult female voice is heard calling out. “Mike, please help me with the groceries!”

The moment falls apart, and I move backwards to allow Delphi room to squirm. “My parents are home from work,” she breathes. She shifted her gaze to the black and white clock on her wall. “They’re home an hour early.”

All I can do is remain silent, still attempting to process what Delphi and I just did.

“You have to go. Sneak out the window. Don’t let my parents know you were here.”

“Wh-wh-what? Why?” I stammer curiously.

“I’m not allowed to have boys here without an adult.” Her voice had inclined from calm and timid to high and scared.

I nod, forgetting about my sweatshirt in the corner and moving to open the window, while doing my best to remain silent. The window screeches a few times, but then it slides open easily. I jump through and Delphi closes the window expertly as I creep around the house and begin to sprint toward my apartment complex.


Chapter Three

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Once I am out of her neighborhood, my pace slows to an intermediate stroll. With the sun going down the air only plummets in temperature. A tingling sensation in my stomach reminds me of my forgotten sweatshirt still most likely thrown on Delphi’s pristine Nikes.

My stomach drops as I realize that it’s 6:26. Twenty-six minutes past my curfew. Oh, was I going to get it from Arron. I take a few seconds to allow air to regain comfort in my lungs before I take off running again.

I pass a few scared rabbits and a few stoplights before arriving to my apartment complex. I look down at my watch. Forty-four minutes late. I reluctantly climb the stair to the second floor and drag my feet to apartment 22B. Removing a diminutive, red-plated key expertly from my back pocket, I wriggle it into the lock and turn until it clicks. Shoving the key deeply back into my jeans pocket, I anxiously shuffle through the doorway and into the small entry-way. I walk forward, and begin to turn left, into the hallway that leads to my room and walk forward. I swing open my door and the rusty hinges eerily scream. There, right before me, sits Arron, drunk, as usual, with a belt in his right hand.

“I believe you’re past curfew.” He smirks, tilting his silver-coated wristwatch in my direction, a pure act of mockery. He stands, kicking the chair, with his foot, toward the back wall of my room. It crashes into my nightstand and splinters fly from the wooden dresser, but Arron couldn’t care less. He unravels the belt and stretches it out so he holds it in two hands.

“This should remind you not to come into my house late.” He rears his hand back, a malicious grin plastered onto his complexion, and begins to bring it down until Sarah runs into the bedroom, shrieking wildly. I violently shake my head at her, willing her desperately to leave and remain uninvolved, but if she saw me, she didn’t mind.

“Arron,” she yelped. “Please don’t hurt him. He was only 43 minutes late. Please just let him off with a warning!”

I open my mouth to correct her. I was 44 minutes late, but I think better of it.

Arron placed a grisly hand on her head full of thick hair, and shoved her back towards the nightstand and chair. She made impact with the furniture and began weeping, attempting desperately to remain inaudible. I turn to look at the tears streaking down her face and landing onto the floor, creating small puddles in the carpet. Then the combination of leather and metal strikes my back angrily. The flesh becomes hot and then begins swelling, but that only made Arron smirk more as he pulled the fabric up and stuck my frame once more. A yelp exits my mouth, before I cut it off by clamping my mouth. I have to look strong; for Sarah.

The belt beats my back another few countless times. Sarah turns her head and buries it into the wooden legs of the broken chair, smashed into my nightstand. Arron’s gaze is ignited with fury when he pushes my shoulders, causing me to fall to the ground. He brings the belt down once more, applying as much force as he has into the final beating. He gives an immoral cackle before removing himself from my bedroom and slamming the door.

I lay on my carpet, my blood cascading down my back in thin streams.

I almost wish Sarah had died with mom, so she didn’t have to live in this harsh environment with myself as a horrid example, and Arron as a brutal demon.

She slowly begins to turn her head to look at me.

I groan and push my face deeper into the dirty carpet.

Sarah examines me on the floor, then immediately stands and runs over to study my wounds. She hovers a hand centimeters over my back, but my nerves sense it and shiver with pain. I stifle a low moan, but Sarah hears it anyway. “It’s bruised badly and the flesh is mostly stripped.” She mutters half to herself as she runs into the bathroom and, moments later, comes back with a dripping bath towel. She gingerly places it onto my wounded back and I emit a shrill scream of pain as the frigid temperature of the water triggers the senses of my nerves and causes them to burn in anguish.

Pain consumes my memory and clouds my thoughts until my vision blackens at the edges. The last thing I remember was heated pain surging through my raw back.

|-| ♢Surfacing♢=

Prologue

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Soft, white flakes cascaded from the grey sky. They covered the ground in a sheet of cold white. Several blades of grass peeked from the white floor, but they were later covered. The evergreens surrounding Splenda Wahl's Private School gleamed of ice and snow. The glass Winter was looking out of clouded fast. It had been a long time since he had a snowy Winter. They were always ugly, leaving the trees leafless and dead. Everything was silent aside from the rhythmic ticking of the analog clock. Winter turned his focus from the window to the girl next to him. Honey Pawstrum. Everyone thought she was odd. And an outcast. But Winter, Winter thought she was perfect. Bright hazel eyes. Blonde hair cascading down her back like a waterfall. And tiny tawny freckles dotting her light skin. She quietly worked on multiplying fractions. An easy start of 7th grade. The cold Vermont school couldn't have been quieter. Until a sudden beeping came upon the SmartBoard.

"Blizzard Alert: Please stay indoors and refrain from leaving wherever you are" Mrs. Petrucci, Winter's math teacher cleared her young through. She was about 48. She was known as one of the best teachers in Splenda.

"As you heard, you will be in school for a bit until the blizzard clears," She spoke quietly, yet sternly."Do not panic, you will attend your normal classes, if we are still here, you may go to study hall." She smiled. Only a few annoyed sighs and eye rolls were heard. Winter was thrilled. Now's my chance to talk to Honey! He tapped her calm shoulder blade. Honey flinched then looked at Winter.

"Yes?" She smiled, her voice quivering slightly. Winter stumbled stuttering and sweating.

"Want to go to Study Hall with me?" He smiled. "You know to study for this Math test!" He smiled again awkwardly. I'm dying and she can't see it. She grinned.

"Sure, Winter!" She stuttered slightly. "Thanks!" A sudden chill fell up Honey's spine. Her pupils dilated.

"Um, Honey?" Winter asked in confusion. He was growing more worried by the minute. Suddenly her eye color faded and she blacked out on her desk.

"I know what happened." She spoke very firmly. "They-" Suddenly her face grew pale. I didn't know what happened then. In the few minutes we were there, Whisper was face first on the desk. Ronee scurried off in horror as I stood there. Memories. It came to me. My grandma was very wise. Knowing much about life. She claimed she knew about magic, and witches and other things. I was 7 at the time. Being 13 now, I realized how odd it was to believe in that stuff. She told me, at age 12-13 children get picked from the millions to go to a place called Serene's School for the Gifted when chosen, they behave as if they will die. First, their pupils dilate, then they grow pale, and faint. Their spirits drift to the school. It was amazing to know that at first, but when I reached the age of 11, I realized it was stupid. She was dead by then. I had totally forgotten about magic by then. After being convinced that magic couldn't be real. Could this be that they are being- No. There has to be something scientific behind this. I felt pretty sick the rest of the day. I pretty much just witnessed a death. My friends kept telling me I look pale. I didn't care. I already went down to the nurse twice. I sat in English watching the feet of now 'reaching' the top on the windows. We were 'officially' buried. I rested my head on the spruce desks. The teachers were so tired. I closed my eyes for one second then I heard screaming. Alarms of some sort. I gasped and raised my head. There staring back at me, was Honey, Fall, Silhouette and Whisper.

Category: Blog posts

Chapter One

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|-| ♢The 54th Annual Hunger Games♢=

The Announcement

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President Snow's voice boomed through the speakers loudly, causing many children to cover their ears. "Greetings, Panem. An announcement has been arranged, to make the Games a bit more... interesting." People looked around, confused. The small wave of murmuring died down as Snow's voice blared again. "As of now, tributes no longer are required to be of the opposite gender. Two females can be reaped, two males can be reaped, in addition to the normal female and male. Thank you for your time, and always, happy Hunger Games." The speakers cut off, and only a soft buzzing came from them. After a few moments, the crowd dispersed in silence.


District One: The Reaping

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The crowd waited tensely, anxiety hanging over them like a thick blanket of mist. The women and men stood in separate areas, families locking gazes and transferring reassuring glances. A makeshift stage had been set up in the town central, two large speakers adorning either side. A woman in vibrant colored clothing stepped up to podium standing in the middle of the stage. She cleared her throat and begun. "Hello, District One! I'm Effie Trinket. It's such a joy to see you all again!" She said, smiling brightly. "As you know, today is the day of The Reaping, where two tributes are chosen for the Hunger Games. Let's get started!" Effie said, her heels clicking as she walked toward a large glass bowl. She reached a single gloved hand into it, fishing around for a moment. She pulled out a small slip of paper, and unfolded it slowly. "Jackson Montreal." She announced, reading the paper. A few seconds later, a dark haired boy strided from the midst of the men. Four Peacekeepers surrounded him and took him to the stage, where he climbed the steps and stood by Effie. She stuck her hand once more into the bowl. She drew another paper, and read it aloud. "Logan Dilom." A skinny, short, brown haired boy stepped out of the crowd timidly, his shaking visible. His face was plagued by freckles, and fear shown in his blue eyes. He walked to the stage and came to a stop on Effie's left side. "Come on now, shake hands you two." She chided. The two boys faced eachother, and shook hands. "Give it up for the tributes of District One!" Effie smiled, putting her hands on both male's shoulders. No one applauded. "'Well then, time for goodbyes!" She rushed them off the stage and into a small waiting room. The crowd broke, only a few people staying behind for goodbyes.

Tributes Hex And Evy From Distric Two: On The Train to the Capitol

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The two tributes sat in silence, the train vibrating as it made it's way to the Capitol. A dark brown haired girl murmured quietly. "Did they say goodbye to you?" The other female tribute looked at her in confusion. "Who?" The black haired girl replied. "Your family." The girl whispered, turning her head to look at her. "Of course not. My family's a bunch of low-class beggars, fending only for themselves." The black haired girl hissed, a disgusted look on her face. "That's quite sad. My family said goodbye. They also told me they would take care of my pet newt." The girl said, turning back to the window, her voice lazy and complicated at the same time. "I'm Evy." She said without looking. "I'm Hex." The other female replied, crossing her legs on the leather couch and looking around their compartment. A buffet lined the back wall, it's scents filling the air and making Hex's mouth water, but she refused. She would not eat Capitol food. Not food from those soulless demons. Evy's head turned as the compartment door opened. A woman with ginger hair pulled back in a ponytail stood there, her green gaze sweeping over the two tributes. She stepped down the small stairs and sat at a table with cushioned chairs. She spoke, her voice strong and stern. "I'm your mentor, Avrielle Derello." Hex had a silent glaring contest with her new mentor. After a long moment of staring, the teenager looked away, avoiding Avrielle's gaze. "So, I will be guiding you through your week of training before the Games. I will teach you all I can, and help you win the hearts and minds of the Capitol. Being their favorites means you get to live longer." The fiery haired female said bluntly, her eyebrows raised. "Any questions?" Evy's hand shot up. "Yes?" Avrielle asked. "I was wondering, were you a past victor?" Evy replied, curiosity shining in her blue eyes. "Yes, I was. Victor of the 25th." Their mentor said, clasping her hands together. "You two better put on your smiles, cause we'll be arriving at the Capitol shortly." Avrielle got up, pushing in her chair. "And remember, give the Capitol what they want to see, and they'll give you what you need." She said, exiting the compartment. Hex and Evy sat quietly again, Evy practicing to smile; but ending up looking slightly in pain.


Tributes Fall And Caroline From District Three: Training, Day One

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The twenty four tributes stood in a rough circle, all of them tense. Bright light shining from the ceiling forced many to squint. Fall's gaze traveled around the large building. Spears, swords, knives, and other dangerous weapons were hung up along a wall, glinting mischievously. A small corner was dedicated to a simulation of a forest. A table against the back wall held rope, pocketknives, and a sheet of tips and tricks for hiding and traps. A mat was laid out on the floor, close to the weapons. Dummies and punching bags hung above the mat, swaying in the slight breeze. The room was filled with all sorts of preparation for the Games, and yet Fall had no idea what to do. A door on the back wall slid open, and an African-American man stepped out. His dark hair was close cropped, and he had chocolate brown eyes. He wore green cargo pants and a matching t-shirt and vest. A badge pinned to his chest was engraved with an eagle and "Capitol". He walked into the middle of the tribute's circle, his eyebrows raised as he surveyed them all in turn. "All of you will have three hours to practice and prepare before you are sent back to your mentors." The man spoke abruptly, his voice resonating across the silent room. "You can spend those three hours doing as you wish. You are free as to what you choose to focus on, whether it is your skill, or a whole new technique. Understood?" He barked, putting his hands behind his back. "Understoods" rang from the crowd, except for one voice. It belonged to a District One male. "Oh, no. I have a few things that I didn't understand." He said, looking at the man with bored eyes. His combat boots clomped as he advanced on the tribute. "And what do you not understand, might I ask?" He growled. "Well, since you insist on it, why aren't our mentors here? Aren't they supposed to train us? And, where are the bathrooms located?" The boy replied, a glint of amusement in his eyes. "You train with your mentor after this session; this one is for private training. Just hold it in. You think you're so funny, asking a question like that. Make another remark like that and you'll find yourself dead before the Games even begin. I don't take kindly to jokesters like you." The man said, agitation in his deep voice. The boy's only reaction was an innocent smile and mild surprise. "Oh no sir, my questions were merely curiosity at work." The man let out a breath through his nose and walked away, back towards the door. "You have three hours, spend them wisely." He said as the door closed.

The tributes looked around and slowly broke their circle, drifting to different stations. Groups quickly formed, a large one of maybe seven tributes huddled by the weapon wall, another of four at the woodland simulation, and the rest scattered in groups of two or three. Fall found her fellow District Three tribute in the midst of the traps station. He walked over to her, intent on asking her to train together. "Hey, you're Caroline, right? I was just gonna-" He tapped her shoulder, but stumbled back when she punched him in the stomach. "Oh my God, I am so sorry! You just crept up on me so suddenly I didn't know what to do!" She apologized, helping him up. "Nah, it's okay." He replied curtly. "Anyways, I was gonna ask you if we could train together." Fall shrugged. "That's perfect! I wasn't really planning on training alone." She blinked. "Oh, I'm Caroline." Caroline extended her hand to Fall. "I'm Fall." He said, grasping her hand and shaking it gently. "Well, you ready to train? What's your skill?" The brown haired male asked. "Hiding, the only thing I'm good at." Caroline sighed. "That doesn't sound bad. Hiding may do us good. I've had a bit of practice hiding from Peacekeepers when I was seven. Stayed up past curfew one night, I almost got caught." Caroline's eyes widened. "Wow, that must've been scary." She said, half amazed. After a moment she shook her head. "Training, right. I get sidetracked easily." She picked up a small jar of paint and opened the lid. She picked up a long bristled paintbrush. "Arm." She commanded, and Fall gave her his right arm. The paint was cold against his skin, and resisted to urge to pull away. Her light brown hair spilled over her shoulders like a murky waterfall. Her hazel eyes shone with a curious light. After a long few minutes of opening paints and Fall's arm tickling unbearably, a patch of his skin looked just like an Autumn's day. A grassy ground with leaves covering most of it. Fall looked at her in astonishment. "Where'd you learn to paint like that?" Caroline shrugged. "My mother. She was an artist. I've been painting for eight years." The young girl said it as if her skill was nothing. "Well you're pretty dang good at it." Fall replied, smiling. Caroline laughed, drawing the attention of other tributes. She hushed, but her broad smile stayed. Fall knew that the two would get along quite nicely in the next few days, and maybe possibly become allies. He brightened at the thought and watched Caroline paint his other arm as a gentle stream, it's surface rippling slightly.

Tributes Winter And Delphi From District Five: Training, Day Two

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Winter walked over to the forest simulation, where he had been the day before. Feeling confident with his skills, be began striking two rocks together in attempt to light a fire. A spark caught a dry leave, and set it ablaze. Other leaves upon the ground followed suit, crippling and withering under the fire's heat. Winter looked at it proudly, the fire catching the eyes of fellow tributes. Some stopped to stare at it for a moment. The teenager smiled at a female tribute, who smiled back. Her smile turned into horror that confused Winter- until he felt warmth by his leg. The fire had spread towards him, and was slowly burning away his pants. Winter's eyes widened and he got up, frantically slapping his leg. He looked around, trying to find something to put it out. He ran over to the traps and hiding station, and threw an open paint jar at it. The fire was dampened by the paint. Tributes stared at him in shock as he collapsed on the floor, panting heavily. Behind him, the door opened and three men rushed in. They swarmed the now fully-fledged fire, and sprayed it with a thick hose they dragged in. A woman jogged over to Winter and put a cream on his burn. He winced as she wrapped gauze around it tightly. After the fire was diminished, the woman and men receded back to he door. The room's errie silence faded, and the tributes carried on as if nothing had happened. A girl rushed to his side, worry in her pale green eyes. "Are you okay?" Winter sat up. "Yeah,it was just a burn. Nothing bad." He tried to sound as casual as he could. Winter studied her features more closely, and realized it was the girl from his District. "You're Delphi, right?" He asked. Delphi replied with a nod. "Well, if you're okay, I'll leave you to get back to training." She said, smiling and getting up. Winter watched her rejoin a small group of two other people.

Delphi's mind raced as she sat down by her new friends, Logan and Evy. They cut off their discussion when Delphi returned. "What's up with that guy?" He asked, gesturing to Winter with a movement of his head. "He got burned while practicing lighting a fire. He's the male tribute from my District." She replied, picking up a small dagger and examining it with a misty look in her eyes. "I have a question." Evy said to both of them. "What is it?" Logan asked. "Well, if we're friends, does that make us allies?" She asked, playing with the end of her hair quietly. "I dunno. I guess we have to see how things play out beforehand." Delphi replied, twirling the dagger's tip on the floor. "Then maybe we shouldn't hang out together. We might get too attached. There can only be one victor, we can't all live. It'll be too depressing if any of us die." Logan reasoned. "Wow, that's one of the smartest things you've said so far." Evy said, smirking. "Hey, I'm smarter than I let on. If I let you know everything about me, you could kill me in a second." He argued. "True that." Evy chuckled, tipping an imaginary hat. "Then this might be where we part ways. It's sad that not even a day passed, and we already have to split up. But, if things go right, we may be able to become allies." Delphi said, standing up with the dagger in hand. "Nice knowing you two." Evy said, shaking their hands. "May the odds every be in your favor." Delphi said. The three parted ways reluctantly, going to different stations.

Tributes Ronee and Tiberius from District Five: Training, Day Three

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Ronee looked around the room, trying to find something new to do. She had been in the forest simulation on day one, and hiding and traps on day two. Her eyes traveled to the weaponry, hanging from the wall. She walked over to it, passing fellow tributes. Ronee examined each weapon slowly, before choosing three small knives, a bit smaller than a dagger. Targets lined the back wall, close to the hiding and traps station, but far away so no one would get hit. Ronee set the other knives on the floor, and held by the blade in her hand. She narrowed her blue eyes and swept her ombre hair out of her face. She pulled her arm back, and threw the knife. It bounced harmlessly off of the target, bringing Ronee's self-esteem down a bit. She picked up another knife, and flung it. It too clattered to the floor. Ronee took a deep breath, and picked up the last knife. She threw it with all her force, and it managed to burrow itself into the second outer ring. Ronee smiled, and went to collect her knives. A voice at her right side made her jump. "You're Ronee, aren't you?" Ronee whipped her head around. A handsome male with chocolate brown hair and a bored smile on his face stood there. He had one elbow resting on a stack of boxes, the other on his hip. "Yes, I am. Who are you?" Ronee replied, focusing her attention back on pulling the knife out of the target. "Name's Tiberius. The male from your District?" He said, raising an eyebrow. "You forgot about me already? To be honest, I thought no one could forget this face." Tiberius said, smirking. "Listen, I don't have time for you or whatever you came to me for." Ronee said, turning away and walking back to her throwing spot. "I wanted to show you my skills." He said. Ronee groaned. "The last thing I need right now is a flirt, so get your self-righteous butt away from me, or I'll stick a knife in your eye. Don't think I'm hesitant to kill you. I'd take you down before you could even scream." Ronee said sassily. "Woah woah, this conversation has taken a horrible turn. Sorry for acting all flirty, I'm not good with people, so I try to start off bold. I'm actually really shy." Tiberius confessed, his cheeks turning pink slightly. "Oh. Sorry about threatening you. I'm not a fan of boastful flirts." Ronee apologized. "But anyways, I really do want to show you my skill. May I?" Tiberius asked, outstretching his hand to the knives in Ronee's palm.

Tiberius threw the knife with ease, hitting the target. The knife's blade disappeared, only the handle showing. It had hit a few centimeters off from the center. "Dang, you're good." Ronee said, slightly impressed. She handed him another knife, and it dug into the target's fabric, about halfway between the middle and the outer ring. Tiberius absentmindedly grabbed the last knife and hit the center. He walked over to the wall of weapons and picked out a short sword. He walked back over to the shooting range and threw the sword. It hit close to the center, quivering from the impact. Soon enough, three more swords, two daggers, a spear, and a pocketknife were embedded in the target's surface. Ronee's jaw hung open, wonder in her blue eyes. "How do you do that?" She asked. "I dunno, it's just my talent." Tiberius replied, shrugging. He walked over to the target and pulled out the weapons. He brought them back, careful not to injure himself. The target was mangled, pieces of fabric handing by threads. "You've gotta teach me." Ronee insisted. "I can do that." Tiberius said with a smile.

|-| ♢The Mystery Trials♢=

Prologue

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Tiberius wrapped his arms around Astrid in a quick hug before running to the coal mines, sweat running down his forehead in steady rivulets. Grabbing a pail, chisel and shovel he headed into the elevator that led underground into the mine tunnels. Every man ages 13-64 worked in the coal mines in Sector 13, well known for the distribution of underground minerals and plentiful hunting. Tiberius was 17 years old, his girlfriend Astrid age 16 hunted in the glade behind the town with most of the other women. All the women at the age of 13 had a choice of either housekeeping for the whole town or hunting in the glade. At the moment Wyck ran over to Tiberius pecking him on the cheek when Astrid wasn’t looking, “Tiberius! I just beat the Sector Record for hunting the most finch in one run! Can you believe it?!” she held his hands in hers all her emotions masked by beautiful achromatic amber eyes.

“Er, that’s great Wyck! I was just getting to the coal mines, but congrats on the new record.” Tiberius slowly inched away chuckling self consciously leaving Wyck standing there.

Stepping onto the platform Tiberius felt it sway beneath all the weight being put onto it. The last thing he saw before being lowered into the mines was Wyck shouting get out before the engine blew up, debris flying into the air he blacked out as soon as he and the elevator platform collapsed into the mines.

Chapter One

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Monolithic clouds of grey smoke filled the air, blocking out the sun casting Sector 13 into darkness. Tiberius’ ears rang as he propped himself up on his elbows, tan muscular body bruised and battered. He heard Wyck and Astrid screeching his name as water hoses sprayed marian blue water over the flames and smoke slowly extinguishing the raging fire. Rescue teams came and hauled all of the battered bodies, or what’s rest of them, out of the mine on stretchers. Tiberius was last to be carried away, catching a last glance of Wyck and Astrid staring at him, worry clouding their eyes as he entered the Sector 13 Hospital doors.

••••

Tiberius woke up with a start, having completely forgotten where he was and what happened. Astrid loomed over him, beautiful pale green eyes filled with worry as he blinked the sleep from his eyes. “Are you alright?” she murmured as she kissed him for about 3 heartbeats as if he had died and was resurrected twice. “I thought you were dead, Toby!” she yelled hugging him tightly.

“I’m fine, no need to worry.” he smiled has he hugged her tightly tears overcoming his imperturbable barrier.Tiberius sat up, an obscure groan of pain escaping his lips as he stood.

Astrid walked beside him, holding his hand in case he needed any help. Exiting the hospital the sun was touching the far horizon, turning the shade a brilliant shade of red and orange as they made it to the cottage they lived in.

“You do know, the Games start pretty soon and if you get into them then you better get ready.” Astrid told him as the sat down on the couch, Tiberius’ arm going around her shoulders.

“I know, but the coal mines have me working so early and late that it’s hard to fit in any practice.” he replied bringing her in close.

Astrid had leaned closer to Toby’s face, crawling nearly  on top of him. “But you know what practice you do have time for?” her sentence was cut off as their lips interlocked into a writhing mass of smothering.

“Well, I never said I didn’t have time for making out.” he chuckled as he pulled her closer to him, kissing her lips and neck.

He wrapped his arms around her waist as they settled down and slowly, drifted off to sleep.


Chapter Two

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           Delphi T. Rhowen POV W/ Haven

“Hurry up Haven! We’re going to miss it!” Delphi ran beside the train, the doors wide open as she waited for the right moment to leap into the train car. Haven panted behind her as he fought to keep up with her, being just a bit shorter than her.

Delphi lept into the train, Haven trailing behind her as they tumbled onto the train car floor. Catching their breath the swung their legs over the edge of the car the wind rushing over. “What are we doing here exactly?” Haven said flicking a piece of gravel over the edge.

“I told you, we’re going to the lake.” Delphi told him with an annoyed glance as she swept dust into his face.

“But the lake’s dried up Delphi, why would we want to spend precious time in that stupid place while we can be spying on the other Sectors? And we’re not allowed to go anywhere beyond Sector Territory, we can get arrested for this.” Haven replied pushing her back into the train, watching her slide back with a giggle.

“I’ve been sneaking rides over to the lake the past few weeks and I’ve built a training area where we can train for the Events.” she pushed him over, crouching above him on all fours, faces at least 6 inches away.

“Be quiet.” Haven grabbed her close, faces about 2 inches away, he whispered, “Just be quiet.”

“What are you doing? Telling me to shut u-” her retort was cut off as the train derailed and the tumbled over each other to the very back of the car, landing in a heap.

The train tumbled over the hillside throwing them to and fro as the tried to cling to something to keep them from tumbling and getting injured even worse. Guns were being fired at the train as a Jeep raced after the train, the people in it clearly wanting to get inside the train. Explosives were piled in the Jeep trunk, displaying what they used to derail the train.

“We need to get outside! The train is heading towards the lake!” Delphi grabbed Haven’s arm keeping him from being flung around so that they couldn’t escape. Daylight flashed into the train car’s open doors showing flashes of lake and trees.

“But there are people outside firing GUNS Delphi! How in the great land of shrubs are we supposed to get out without being shot?!” he lunged toward the exit escaping without Delphi and leaving her clinging to the sides of the train.

“Wait! Haven! What about me?!” Delphi screeched, hoping Haven could hear her beneath the cacophonous wails of train cars splitting apart and gunshots being fired at the train and ricocheting off the metal. The train tumbled into the forest, tree branches and stumps denting and tearing through the train walls.

When the train was stopped for just a moment, Delphi had time to wriggle through one of the torn train sides. When she was exposed to the open air, malice flared in her pale green eyes as she saw Haven’s silhouette on the apex of the hillside. She took off after him, forgetting about her bruises and scrapes, quickly catching up with him lunging at him.

“You left me in there! You left me there to die, you perfidious fool!” she hissed into his ear as he struggled under her weight. “You will pay, in the Events you will be the first one de-” Haven pulled her closer kissing her lips holding onto her waists. He brushed her hair from her face smothering her lips and nestling her deeper.

 “Hush.”

|-| ♢How She Survived♢=

Prologue

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Alyssia Jury sat on on a towel on Bristling Beach gazing off at the world past the huge sea that roared in front of her. Her dark brown hair tossed and turned in the wind as it rushed at her face. She closed her wistful, grey eyes and managed a smile. The feel of her rough beach towel, the sand on her painted blue toes, the wind coming at her face, the sound of the waves splashing down and soaking up before reaching her. Everything was perfect. Interrupting her peaceful state, loud footsteps started coming towards Alyssia. Her eyes opened groggily and blinked a bit to focus. She turned and seemed to be facing her Aunt Lo. "Aunt Lo?"

Alyssia's aunt was wearing a maroon dress that fit tightly around her. "Alyissia... We must go. NOW." Without asking questions, Alyssia got up and wiped the sand on her frilly, yellow dress she was wearing. Her aunt seemed to be in stress and worry. "Why are w-" "No questions! Come with me." Aunt Lo grabbed her wrist and yanked her over to a fashionably red car that had been parked nearby the beach.

In the car ride Alyssia still had many question she had to offer. One of them being "Where are we going?" Aunt Lo made no reply as the screeched to a sudden stop. Noticing how her aunt rejected her question, Alyssia repeated the question "Aunt Lo where are we going?" Lo's bottom lip quivered and she cried out "Your mother... She's very sick. I-I'm afraid she isn't going to make it." Alyssia blinked a bit. She shook her head, refusing what her aunt was telling her. "I'm so sorry dear. We are going over to your grandmother's house, where she is now. Sh-She wanted to speak to you." Alyssia still did not speak, afraid if she would she won burst into a sob. Her body stiffened as the car came to a hault in front of the same house she would go as a kid.

Alyssia stepped in the massive mansion that belonged to her family. She swiped her feet on a welcome mat that had a smiling bee and ladybug on it. Normally, Alyssia would smile as well but she ignored it and kept walking. Her Aunt Lo guided her through hallways and stairs until finally they arrived at a door which had light streaming out of the cracks around the door. Alyssia opened the door to see a rather old woman beside a bed that had dark brown hair, like Alyssia's, spilling out from the blanket covers. The old lady, who was her grandmother, stepped aside and let Alyssia pass through. Alyssia bit her lip and went over to the bedside. She choked out "M-Mom?" Alyssia stroked the covers off the top part of the bed which revealed a head. Her mother had fair, tan skin and was very pretty. The only feature that did not look like Alyssia was her green eyes which looked like grass you would see in a field during springtime. Her mother opened her eyes and reached out a hand and gently touched Alyssia's cheek, sending shivers down her back. Her touch was cold and wasn't the same warm, glowing touch Alyssia was used to. Her mother smiled. She had bags under her eyes and her wrinkles began to show. "Alyssia, I have something to tell you." Alyssia nodded and took her mother's hand into her own, keeping it at her cheek. "Remember that I will always love you." Alyssia nodded "This is about your father. I'm sorry I didn't tell you before. H-h-h-" Her voice stopped. Alyssia blinked "Mom? Mom! Mom answer me!" Her mother's eyes stayed open, her cheeks ran out of warmth. Alyssia's mothers hand which was in hers was stone cold. Alyssia began sobbing and crying. She clutched her mother's hand tightly. Alyssia's grandmother gasped and ran to the bed. Aunt Lo stood in horror and had fainted. Alyssia collapsed at the bedside bursting in tears. She didn't eat or budge from the bedside for the rest of the day. Before she knew it, Alyssia had cried herself to sleep.

How I Remembered It All

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Well this is new to me. I am Alyssia Jury. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Make all the puns you like. I'm used to them. Well anyhow. You might be wondering "Who is this sicko?" or "Haha! She's making a diary. What a dork!" Well laugh all you want. This isn't even a diary! Imagine this more like... a history book. Well anyway where did I leave off? Oh right. Yeah "Jury" is from my mother's side. I don't use it much. Partly because I don't like to remember my mother and partly because I'm practically homeless. Don't rush to the questions about why I'm homeless or why I don't like remembering my mother. Well I could talk about why I'm homeless, but not my mother. Never about mother. Let's not go that far 'k? I am homeless because of many reasons. Something drastic happened and I had to live with my Aunt Lo when I was eight. She was very, very harsh. When I turned eleven I ran away. "Gee what a stupid thing to do Alyssia!" Well I was a kid. I was also was getting beaten by my aunt. So you can't blame me. Plus, I've done pretty well handling myself. I have been a street kid for four years now. Not to hard actually. I found a job at Risa Risa which is a Mexican food place. I get paid average, for a waitress. Going to Risa Risa helps my stress lower in some ways. The manager, Greta, is like the nicest person in the world and the probably the best boss you can get! She acts as a mother to me which is really sweet. I knew my mother, but I never knew my father when I was little. My mother told me he left when I was 2. I never had any urge to look for him, to be fair I was actually mad at him. Why would he leave my mother? Why did he leave me? Was he unhappy with my mother? All those questions could never be answered. I just learned to deal with it, but if I ever find my father (like I'm going to recognize how he looks like) the least I will do is shout him. <p style="text-align:center;">I tie my hair into a single ponytail. When I ran away, I packed enough belongings to last me a year. I have four hair ties that go around my wrist, along with a watch. I have enough clothes to go through one day a week and I go to one of those laundry places to wash them. I have a pair of shoes that I bought with some of the money I got from work because my old ones didn't fit me anymore. I have a sleeping bag and usually sleep in Risa Risa's. I buy my own food and water with the money I get and all these things are stored in a fairly large grey backpack. </center>