Saturday, 26 January 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013 -

The Pain Games

by Jon Thorn
Published: Jan 26, 2013
Words: 21,718
Category: general
Orientation: F/F
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They call it the 'Pain Games' and it's aptly named. It's not about death, it's about pain. At the Pain Games, no-one gets killed, no-one dies, but plenty of people get hurt. Like its grown-up sibling, the Pain Games happens every year, six months after the Hunger Games has finished. By then the people in the Capitol must be getting bored and the districts need another little reminder of where the power lies in Panem. It will be the 74th Hunger Games this year which makes this the 73rd Pain Games.

It's not called 'Reaping' it's called 'Choosing' but the way it works is much the same, and there isn't any choice, not if you're one of the ones in the pool. It alternates year on year, boys one year, girls the next. It's girls this year. All girls between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one. It's the third time for me. I've been lucky so far, my name's never come out, not when I was eighteen and not when I was nineteen. Now at the ripe old age of twenty it's my last time.

We are standing in the square in front of the Justice building. All of us who are eligible are standing together. Felicia, my little sister, is standing next to me. I squeeze her hand, trying to give her some re-assurance. She's eighteen, it's her first time. If her name comes out then I know what I must do. I can't see her go through this ordeal, she's so young, so innocent. I can't see her hurt and humiliated. If she gets chosen then I will take her place. She gives me a little smile, her eyes so blue beneath her blonde fringe.

The moment has arrived. Flanked by two Peacekeepers, Mirrie Tolson, the mistress of ceremonies, dips her hand in the bowl. We all go silent as she unfolds the slip of paper.

"Anastasia Quinliven," she announces in a clear voice.

My mouth goes dry. My name! She has said my name. My stomach lurches and I feel suddenly sick.

"No!" Felicia gasps and tightens her grip on my hand. I wrench it free. There is no choice. If I do not step forward then the Peacekeepers will drag me out. There are humiliations enough to come without that. I straighten my back and walk up to the podium. I ascend the steps and look out over the crowded square. The rest of my family are over to the left. I cannot look at them.

Mirrie reaches into the bowl again. She takes a second slip. I see her eyebrows rise as she reads the name and feel a sudden, extra, chill sweep over me. I know it before she says it.

"Felicia Quinliven," she announces.

There is a collective gasp from the crowd, which stills instantly as the Peacekeepers cock their weapons. Felicia looks very pale, very frightened as she walks forward.

"Well ladies and gentlemen," Millie grins, "We have a real first for the Pain Games this year! What a turn up for the books. Two beautiful sisters! We are in for a treat!"