The Philippine Hunger Games : A Short Story (Part I of III)
Written by Keevo Loma
Edited by Erin Keshia Manlutac
The characters in this story are based on real names of people but the actual events are fictional and based on a mere game which did not involve any real blood or any individual that has been critically injured or worse, have died. This is based on the 1st Philippine Hunger Games event organized by Hunger Games Philippines last February 12, 2012.
©2008 The Hunger Games is a copyright of Suzanne Collins, the original author of the book.
I do not own the title. This is fan-made.
To say that it was a long journey to the Capitol would be putting it lightly. As a tribute from District 12, it was my first time to see things outside my district. It was a blur of faces and places; but at the same time, it felt as if time slowed its pace to incur in me a mixture of agony, anxiety, and adrenaline. The district that I come from, which is the mining district, wasn’t really that extravagant. It just had a plethora of coal mines and of course, coal. If only the coal we had would turn into diamonds, then at least I would be delighted to proclaim that my district’s not that bad. That kind of scenario is only possible in District 1, the luxury district. They make all the jewelry and the Capitol likes it. For that very reason, District 1 is not that depressing as compared to ours.
And as every tribute needs a mentor, Jenina was assigned to us. She was a victor in the last Hunger Games. You wouldn’t think that a petite girl like her would win but she’s really a good strategist. I’ve watched their games last year and she was pretty good in hiding herself making sure that no one would see her. And when there were a few people left, she killed them one by one to their surprise. She’s about the same age as I am but the Capitol allows persons of any age to become mentors as long as they were past victors. I’m glad that she’s from my district and she could really help us be prepared for this year’s games.
I was alone. I had my own quarter inside the train. Nikole, my fellow tribute was separated from me. It was one of the protocols in the games. They said this would prevent us from killing each other.
I would never kill Nikole. She’s too young. She reminds me of my sister Katrina. It is saddening to think that her name was chosen, as her name was only entered once. Young citizens are only allowed to enter their name once in the reaping. She had less than a one percent chance of being chosen but I guess anything can be possible. The games have taught this country’s citizens that little nugget of wisdom.
As for my case, I volunteered. Tash should have been the male tribute for our district but he killed himself knowing that he was picked. The whole place fell silent and I had to think fast. I had no purpose in life and no future. I never wanted to suffer more from this present situation. I think I was crazy and I did it. They made me the male tribute upon my volunteering.
Ten hours passed, and I could see the Capitol. The Capitol was the place to be, if you know what I mean. It seemed that no one ever got hungry. Everyone looked so healthy. They would wear the most expensive clothes and their technology was so advanced I thought that I was still in the era of the Neanderthals (we had learned a bit about the history of civilizations in school, although not as much as the history of coal). I had never seen such tall buildings that would reach the clouds. I would imagine myself flying if I were inside one of those buildings.
A boy and three girls escorted me to the Training Building. They wouldn’t talk to me. I thought that they weren’t allowed but Jenina said that they’re called Avoxes. They wouldn’t talk not because they would rather not speak to me, but because they simply can’t. Their tongues were cut as punishment for their crimes. Jenina warned me not to talk to them or inevitable punishment would await me.
The Training Building was a huge building exclusive for the tributes to hone their skills. They gave us one day to train and learn from the other tributes’ skills. I am great in hand-in-hand combat and sword fighting. Jenina told me to stay low and never show my skills to everyone. If I had shown my talent, it would serve as an advantage to the other tributes as they know in advance what you’re capable of. I followed her advice and trained myself just learning the basics.
I saw Nikole doing some snares across my station, but we were not allowed to talk. You have to count on your own life. You have to trust no one but yourself. This is crap. I would never hurt Nikole. She was such a sweet girl when I first met her back at home on the day of the reaping. The only sentence I ever uttered to her was, “Hi, good luck to us.” And that was it. I would smile at her and she would smile back. It seems that we had understood each other and had a connection.
I became very hungry after all that training. We all gathered to the Dining Floor. Yes, it’s one huge floor where people eat. It’s where the tributes eat. I can see a huge floor with twelve tables and two chairs each representing a district. The tables and chairs were made of gold. It kind of reminded me of home, although gold was a scarce element in our district. Finding gold in the mining district is a huge honor. It’s a festive celebration. My father was known for finding gold in one of his excavations. The mayor rewarded him a plaque and gave our family unlimited supply of food for a month. When my father died, the mayor gave us a gold coin and we tossed it together with his grave that would serve as closure. When I think about gold, I think about my father.
I wish I could take one home and just sell it. This would help my family live a good life for months. A chair would even help us through a few years!
District logos were meticulously crafted on the table—I guess it was the work of a fine goldsmith from District One. An announcement on the huge plasma screen in front of us said that we were allowed to talk to each other. The voice was of a girl but her face was not shown for anonymity. I bet it was one of the Gamemakers.
This was my only chance to talk to Nikole. Nikole did not hold back. She told me everything I needed to know about her and her family. I guess I would be her last friend to talk to before we die so I guess she didn’t mind if she just knew me a few seconds ago. The food was great. I ate everything I could indulge in. And for dessert, I never had coffee in my life since we never could afford it, and the cakes were just bursting with flavors. The toffee nut cake made from actual toffee nuts only found in District 9 was addicting.
I noticed that some tributes were happily talking to each other. The tables from Districts 1 to 5 were close to one another. I knew it. They were forming alliances. In the past games, alliances were a must. They would help you survive the games. But sometimes, you basically can’t trust people. They would stab you in the back, literally. District 1, 2, and 4 are the Career districts. They are the toughest competitors. And this year, District 3 and 5 seemed to be in good terms with the Careers. I became anxious and I panicked, but I never revealed this to anyone. I told Nikole that the only person she can trust is me and I trust my life to her as well.
The plasma screen then buzzes and another incoming message caught our attention. The training scores have been announced. Just as expected the Careers get an 8 or a 9. We get a 7. It’s not too bad despite the fact that I didn’t show everything that I am capable of. I followed the advice of Jenina. What surprised everyone is District 10 with a score of an actual 10. The Careers lock their eyes on the guy named Charlie and the girl tribute Camille. No one expected that the meat district would top all scores. I would think that these tributes were handy with a knife and killing prey since their used to killing animals for meat. The thought of it scares me.
Lunch was over. We were again separated from each other. That was my last time talking to Nikole. Tomorrow, the 74th Hunger Games will start. Only one shall emerge as a victor. I am praying that it would be me. Everyone does. It is a great honor to be a victor and the perks of being one is a huge deal. You get a house in the Victor Village and your family will never get hungry again. You will serve as an asset to the Capitol while living the good life. I can imagine now, me, Katrina, and my mom living in a carefree life. I just hope my father was still alive to complete the family but all this is just my imagination.