Joined: Sep 17 2012, 04:59 AM

Nov 29 2012, 03:54 AM #16

White. White and cold. White and cold and weightless.

That's how Levi felt as soon as the life left his body. He recalled the feel of the cool leaves against his back, the roiling churn of his stomach as the poison infected his bloodstream, and the wetness of tears upon his face. Not his own. No, the tears were not his own... but whose?

A girl's... a girl's tears. His memory returned slowly, reluctantly, like the steam on the lid of a pot when lifted from a boiling kettle of soup. A girl... Tricity. He remembered her name. Tricity Fenn... the girl from three... the girl who had killed him. Killed him. He was dead. Leviathan Rye, son of Solomon and Emma-Rose Rye, the boy from District Nine, was dead.

Remarkably, he felt no regret about being dead, and no resentment toward the girl who had caused his death. He hoped that his family would not blame her, either. She'd been so nice, so vulnerable and full of remorse at the end. She couldn't have done it with malice. He hoped that she'd made it out okay... or, if she hadn't, that hers had been a quick and painless death.

And suddenly Levi remembered how he'd come to be dead. What had brought him to that clearing in the jungle. The sensation of the poisoned needles entering his flesh. But there was no pain. There would not be any more pain for him, ever again. This was the beauty of death.

Slowly the memories returned to him. The reaping, the simultaneous terror and the relief that it hadn't been young Callaghan who'd been chosen. The springtime before the reaping. Working the fields with Parthalan and Donovan. The cat Cal had saved from harm, Wheatie, who'd become both his comfort and his best friend. Throwing rocks at the coons that had gotten into their rye to keep them from eating their crops. The year the family's crop had been destroyed by hail and they'd all nearly starved. Quillivan's first birthday party. The stew that he and Corcoran had made for their Ma's birthday, when he was seven and Corey was six.

He recalled the year that the twins had been born, gazing down in wonder at the two bundles that his mother had produced, for the first time becoming fully aware that Sebastian and Sullivan were his brothers, and that they'd come from his mother, from her belly, and that they were there to stay.

Memories flashed backward through time, simultaneously at hyper speeds and in slow motion. It was both fast and slow, for death was timeless, helping him recall things he could not remember in life. His first words. His first steps. A time before his birth. The daughter that his parents had lost before Parthalan's birth. Lillian, they'd called her. She'd died when she was only two days old, suddenly and without warning.

Levi visited his parent's wedding, under the summer sun, golden sprigs of wheat carefully braided into his mother's hair, her face radiant with joy. He saw his parents' first meeting, at a barn raising social held when his father was only ten. He witnessed his parents' births, and their parents, and their parents.

Back and back his consciousness soared, until he'd reached a time before time, a time when memories no longer existed, and yet were all present and felt and heard. The white mist swirled before his eyes, and when at last they cleared, he saw the one thing that had brought him comfort in his death. The brown skirt, the cream apron, the freshly baked bread. The gap between the two front teeth, and the warm brown eyes sparkling with gladness at seeing him. The one person who could at once bring tears to his eyes and a smile to his face.

"Hi Ma."


Joined: Oct 8 2012, 12:39 AM

Nov 29 2012, 03:58 AM #17

Balthazar felt a little less somber in these next districts. There were many of them, but many of them were largely inconsequential in what had been his rise to victory, though it seemed so strange to think of it like that.

He liked District Five. It seemed to have the same expression as Three had and he was happy to have never met either of their tributes - at least not formally anyway, even if he had felt bad for their boy. His fate had not been kind to him and, for his sake, Balthazar hoped that he was somewhere safer now. What he liked most about District Five was the way the horizon cut across the sky, jagged from power plants and wind turbines. It was picturesque in a way that District Twelve could never be, but not in the haunting way that District Four had looked to him either.

District Six felt like the heaviest of all the districts in the strangest way. He had met both of their tributes, though he had never spoken much to the boy, he had to admit that he remembered the girl and was rather thankful for her offer of friendship - or the closest thing to friendship that one could have found in the arena. In a way, he figured he would have admired her most if he had been a spectator and not a tribute, because she had been so small, but such a strong fighter for her own.

He left Six feeling oddly hollow and the train rolled into Seven and... well, he tried not to want to escape in the forest that surrounded him, which was amazingly tempting. By now, after all, he had gotten more than a little stir-crazy with just going from the train to dinners to the speeches back to the train and... the cycle went right through again. If he remembered right, the District Seven boy had been one of the last lower district tributes alive alongside him, and had died from the same muttations that had murdered that boy from District Four.

He was almost glad to be gone from District Seven, where the space made him so wish he could just be beyond the fence of District Twelve once more.

And then District Eight?

Almost immediately after stepping out of the train he wanted to jump back on and go back to District Seven. It taunted him with its wide space and the number of trees, sure, but it was better than the grossly claustrophobic feeling. Staring out at the buildings on the way there told him that there was nothing, absolutely nothing wild for miles. No wonder they had only seemed to have a handful of Victors after now forty years. Where District Twelve at least had a bad fence to slip through and the wilds to work in... they had nothing.

Somehow, he felt worse for them than he could even explain even if he was allowed the chance.

Still, he was happy to return to the train, knowing he was slowly getting closer to the final destination of District Twelve. Maybe it was selfish of him, but the closer he got to the end of the line, the less sleep he had as he worried for the well-being of his sister. He felt terrible for these people as broken and down-trodden as they were for he saw not only District Twelve in their faces, but some small part of himself. But he kept telling himself that they didn't matter as long as he got home - as long as he got to Viola again. He just had to hope that she was still... safe.

He still couldn't decide if these were selfish thoughts from a selfish boy who happened to be still alive on accident or not. He wasn't sure if he would ever know, but he didn't want to press the issue.

District Nine taunted him for two acute reasons. The first was that that girl - Aviva, right? - had been one of the few others he had talked to and run into. He remembered, however strangely, about her rushing to help the boy from District Six when he had hurt himself at the first aid station (which seemed altogether ironic in retrospect). He didn't know the boy well, but seeing someone help another tribute out in the face of likely death would leave an impression on anyone, unexpected victors included. The second reason? Well, he was honestly, still very stir-crazy and did want to run around more.

He felt lighter leaving this time. Now he just had two more left and then District Twelve. Two more that, he supposed, would be like Three and Five and Seven, because they would not be painful to see.

[[ So I don't have an epic novel for a final post... ]]


Joined: Sep 15 2012, 08:39 PM

Nov 30 2012, 03:02 AM #18

It was over.

No more pain or suffering. No more careers and madmen. No more anything. Just silence, pure and lonely silence. A murky haze bathed Frost's existence, muddling his thoughts and blurring his vision. The grotesque, violent imagery of his tomb faded. It's replacement formed before his vision; a wide, endless blue sky. Frost's wounds no longer stung, the blood had stopped flowing and his clothes were no longer drenched in the fluids of defeat. Simple, eloquent life. That was all on his mind as he lay amongst a grassy plain, the arena where he met his demise was a world away.

A light breeze blew through he open meadows, the grass tickling his flesh in the gentle winds. Frost heaved a long sigh, totally immersed by the shapes of gentle clouds overhead. Rivers eroded to canyons, angsty mountain ranges came crumbling back to mother earth, and civilization after civilization fell to the unyielding nature of man; through it all, Frost remained staring up at the endless ocean or beauty and perfection. Nothing could compare, and nothing ever would. And with this beauty, Frost lost years and years to his eternal damnation.

Physically he was healed, but his mind was broken. Frost sickened himself. The pursuit of capitol life, failing Levi, murdering Elliot, and watching Midas and his bitch strike down other helpless souls had been enough to earn him a front row seat to the end of the world. In the distance the sun was expanding, growing closer and closer to the little ball of life that was earth. Still Frost remained in the same position, paralyzed by guilt, and unable to escape his hell.

It was a beautiful thing, it was a cursed thing. And for what good he did, Frost could never atone his sins.

And so there he lay, inside the crumbling fortress of forever, staring at the endless of ocean of clouds. Praying that an end to his existence will somehow find him. He is a smart lad though, and he knows his punishment will never be complete.

Joined: Oct 8 2012, 12:39 AM

Dec 1 2012, 02:01 AM #19

District Ten was taunting in the same way that District Seven had been, except mildly worse for the simple fact that he was only a few days away from getting home. The tributes were haunting, too, but in a different way than what he would like to think about. Siblings... it had been a fear that he and Viola had been afraid of encountering only a short time ago, when Balthazar was smaller and they were both able to be reaped. It was a real fear for those two tributes, though, and he almost felt guilty, in a way, after seeing the footage that showed him escaping a battle where one of them did not survive.

Somehow, though, it was hard to feel guilty when he knew not only that he would have died if he had helped them, but also that any efforts that he made to help them would have been futile in the end. He was useful to himself and nobody else in those Games. Maybe he wasn't a Career, but he was as good as a murderer by any other name.

District Eleven wasn't so torturous, although it did feel strange looking out at the people below. So many times, they had tributes get far lately - or else they had tributes get higher scores and seem almost hopeful if they happened to get lucky enough. Or, like this time, they had one end up with a donated weapon just as Balthazar had been... And then they had died, fallen to Careers year after year after year.

Balthazar for his part was thankful as he boarded the train one last time. He was moving like a ghost for the next day and then still upon stepping off and being led to this one, final ceremony at home.

The Justice Building was a lonely, sobering experience. He fought back tears as he curled into an overlarge armchair that could well have acted as a bed if Bal was so inclined to fall asleep. What was any of it worth if he was left alone in the end?

No, not really, but he still clung to the tiny hope that Viola was still around. Snow had not said a single word about her death, so she had to be alive, but hiding.

He forced himself up from the chair and eventually was led out to the district square to give him speech.

The air crackled with a kind of infectious excitement. District Twelve, normally simply somber and quietly accepting of the fate of their tribute, was overjoyed at his victory. For some short months, they would get some food to fill their stomachs. Some of the more... hopeful ones might think that because he won when all odds were against him, perhaps Azalea and he could bring more of their children home.

Balthazar didn't think this, but he didn't say a word about it in his speech. He merely gave it in the same shy, almost quiet tone that he was giving these speeches. There were moments, mere moments, where he did smile towards the crowd, who were loud and almost raucous in their sheer happiness. It made it hard to get through the speech, as the mixture of shouts and calls made it more like an uphill battle comparable to the Games themselves, except less bloody and more energizing.

There was, for him, a lot of regret. He had not killed many in the arena. He had only been a quiet, silent boy who had gone unnoticed to all the other tributes. He was the unexpected and, in more than a few cases, unwanted victor. But he was still a murderer with blood on his hands that he could not see, but also could not wash away no matter how much water and soap he used. Blood from those that he could have helped and did not. Blood from those that he did kill without mercy at his beck and call, when one would think he, of all of the last tributes, might have a little. Desperation and emotion had clouded him enough - just enough that he could come home.

He would like to think that he was better than the Career Victors and the Careers themselves, but he wasn't. He was like every other Victor alive. He was alive because, as unexpected and unwanted he might have been, he was deadly and dangerous. Anyone who survived was always deadly and dangerous.

And so he fought back the tears of his own loss and smiled his small, quaint, broken smile towards the dust-covered citizens of District Twelve. They were more joyous in his Victory than he could ever be, but he could not bring himself to take it away from them. They deserved it, even if he never did.