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The Hunger Pangs
Part One: Wicked Bieber
Today is the day of the reaping, and my sister, Nessarose, just had a nightmare. She hates the day of the Reaping.
“Katnip! I just had the same nightmare of when the Hamburgers are chasing me!” Nessarose screeches. My mom and I call her “Nessa” for short.
“For the last time, Nessa, they are called Hamburjays, not hamburgers!” I correct her. Seesh, she can be so stupid sometimes, but I love her dearly. She starts rolling her wheelchair towards me.
“Whatever!” she rams me with her wheelchair, but I just shoot an arrow at her foot. “Ow!”
“Shut up!” I snap at her.
“Children!” my mother interrupts. “I swear, you two are the loudest pair in District 12! Katnip, did you go hunting with Gale?” my mother asks. She struggles against her straightjacket, but she can’t take it off. The doctors have told her to wear it ever since my dad died in a coal mine accident.
“Yes mother. I got a whole squirrel and two strawberries for the family. Gale took the deer and the bucket of blackberries,” I answer. Gale Rawthorne is my best friend who I go hunting with all the time. He is eighteen and two years older than I am.
“Wonderful! Now, let’s go to the reaping.” So we head out the door, not bothering to dress up for it. I have my long, brown hair in a loose braid, and my sister has hers in a braid too. We are both dressed in our blue school uniforms and mother in her straightjacket. We get to the square where they announce the contestants for the annual Hunger Pangs, a contest where a boy and girl from each of the twelve districts in the continent of Painem fight to the death until there is only one person left, who is the winner. The winner gets riches while the rest of the continent is left to their hunger pangs. Food is scarce on this continent, and almost everybody is poor except for the people who live in the Crapitol, where the government is.
“Happy Hunger Pangs!” Eiffie Trinket screeches from underneath her grim reaper costume. “And may the odds be ever in your favor! Ladies first.” She steps towards the Bingo wheel and pulls out a numbered ball. Kids from the age of 12 to 18 are required to compete in the Hunger Pangs, and each kid basically fills out BINGO and a free space as they get older. Twelve year olds get just a free space, and eighteen year olds get a full BINGO and a free space. I’m 16 so I have a free space and BIN. Nessa only has a free space since she’s 12. My friend Gale, though, is 18 so he has acquired a full BINGO and a free space. “Free space 42,” Eiffie announces. A man gives her a piece of paper with a name. “Nessarose Evergreen.”
“What?!” I cry out. Nessa starts pushing her wheelchair towards the stage.
“Take her place, Katnip, you have a better chance than Nessa,” my mother frantically whispers in my ear. Nice to know my mom loves me.
“Wait!” I scream. “I’ll take Nessarose’s place.”
“Yes!” Nessa squeals. Well, don’t try to stop me, Nessa, I think.
“Why yes, you’re her sister Elphaba, right?” Eiffie solicits. My skin is an evergreen color, and people still confuse me with Elphaba since my sister’s name is Nessarose.
“No, I am not from that damn play ‘Wicked!’ My name is Katnip Evergreen,” I inform her. “And no, I do not defy gravity!” They always ask me if I can do that.
“Oh. Sorry!” Eiffie apologizes. “Next, our male contestant is I-56.” A man comes over to give her a paper. “Pita Hellark!” I know that kid from school; god, I hate his singing. I prepare for an onslaught of Justin Bieber songs.
“Baby, baby, baby, ooooooooooh! Thought you’d always be mine!” Pita sings. Yep, the Hunger Pangs have begun.
Part Two: Oooh! Burn!
I’m whisked off to the Crapitol with Pita aka Justin. I wear a Hamburjay pin that the mayor’s daughter, Padge, gave me as a token. Right now, we are getting prepared for the fashion show part of the Hunger Pangs. It’s a preliminary event where we have a chance to garner support from the audience. So we must dress to impress. District 12’s stylist, Cinnamon, along with his three assistants, Larry, Curly, and Moe, come in.
“Hello, we are your stylists, and I assume you two are my contestants?” Cinnamon asks.
Pita crones, “And I’ma be your one guy, you—“ I interrupt him.
“If you say I’m going to be your number one girl, you’re dead meat,” I warn Pita. “But yes, Cinnamon, we’re your contestants.”
“Great! So, I was thinking. District 12 is all about coal, right?” he states. Pita and I nod. “So, I was going to set you two on fire!”
“We can’t go nowhere but up from here!” Pita sings. I roll my eyes.
“That’s what I was thinking too!” Cinnamon exclaims. “What about you Katnip? Do you approve?”
“Why not?” I give in to his plan. Pita resumes singing his Justin Bieber songs.
“He even looks like Justin Bieber!” Cinnamon notices. I agree; Pita does look like Justin with his mop top, but he has blue eyes and Justin has brown. If he wasn’t so annoying, I might actually like him.
The fashion show is later that night. Pita has a black suit and I a black dress. Both doused in gasoline. Cinnamon assured us the flames wouldn’t hurt us when he lights us on fire. I look at the other contestant’s outfits. District 4 has kiddie pools circling their waists. District 3 has matching Herbie costumes. The Disctrict 2 contestants look like two rubies; even the guy is wearing red lipstick. District 11 contestants have matching apple tree costumes. Pita and I will totally kill these people. Each district marches on the stage, and finally, District 12 is called. We are always last. Cinnamon strikes a match and sets us on fire.
“Pita, do you feel hot?”
“You’re the coolest girl I know!” Pita belts out.
“I don’t feel really cool now.” Sweat beads form on my forehead. People cheer for us as we float onstage. “Okay, now it hurts,” I exclaim. “Ow! Ow! Ow!” Pita is screaming as well. I search for a source of water and head straight for District 4’s costumes. I jump at their waists into one of their kiddie pools. Ahhh. I feel so much better.
“Thank you,” I thank the shocked girl from District 4. Pita is still on the stage flapping his arms like he has wings. “Pita, you dolt! Come over here!”
“I’m coming for you!” Pita sings/screams. He jumps into the other contestant’s pool.
“Oooh! Burn!” the girl says, but then the audience starts clapping. Pita and I get out and bow. I’m going to kill Cinnamon for this. What if those Crapitol idiots actually figure out it wasn’t an act? Pita and I would be so dead. The good news is that we had extra layers under our costumes so we didn’t get burned badly; it just felt like a sunburn.
Part Three: William Tell
In the morning, Pita and I meet our mentor, Haysnitch Aberskunky. He is the only living District 12 victor. When we meet, he’s drunk and smells like a skunk.
“Yo! Aberskunky! What do we do for training?” I ask Haysnitch.
“Uhhhh. Don’t show off,” Haysnitch slurs. “Nobody should know your talents.”
“Okay, so I’ll go light on the archery, and you…” I look at Pita. “Don’t irritate anyone.” Pita nods. I guess he finally figured out that his singing sucks. Pita and I march off to training, where some tributes are already practicing with the weapons. They scare me so I drag Pita over to the plant identification training station.
“Helloooo! My name is Billy Mays! Would you like to see my ad for Oxi Clean?” the trainer inquires.
“Uh, unless Oxi Clean is a plant, no thanks,” I tell him.
“But Oxi Clean can make your green skin nice and white again!”
“Awww…Okay, I’ll teach you some plant identification skills.” Pita and I have to listen to his annoying voice for a full hour before moving onto the next station. We just move from station to station, awaiting our private sessions with the Gamemakers, which will be scored on a scale of 0 to 12. 0 is really bad and 12 is awesome. Of course, District 12 is last so I enter a room full of drunk and bored Gamemakers. I start shooting arrows at the target shaped like a hot dog, hitting the center every time.
“Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog,” a gamemaker sings. I turn around and see the gamemaker singing that song with an apple on his head.
“If I were you, I’d pay attention!” I scold him. I shoot an arrow at the apple on his head, but instead, I hit his adam’s apple. Eh, close enough. The gamemaker chokes on his own blood and dies.
“Hey!” another gamemaker calls to me. “Good job! We hated that guy!” I smirk and go out of the room. Pita goes in next and is out of there shortly.
“Eenie meenie miney moe, catch a bad girl by her toe. If-if-if she holla let her go!” Pita sings. “I heard you were a bad girl!” I remember how I shot the gamemaker’s adam’s apple with my arrow.
“Yeah, I had a William Tell moment,” I share with Pita. We wait for our scores and I get an 11. Yeah! I rock! Pita gets an 8 and I’m surprised. “What did you do to get an 8?” I query.
“I sang. They told me if I stopped singing, they would give me an 8!” Pita answers. I can only shake my head.
Part Four: The Hunger Pangs Begin
The next morning, we are taken to the arena of the Hunger Pangs. I wave goodbye to the Crapitol and sit back in my seat. I’m being sent to my death, and worse, I’m being sent to my death with Pita Hellark. He’s humming the tune “Overboard,” so I plug my ears. After a while, the windows of the plane go black. We’re almost to the arena.
“Pita, you better pray,” I advise him. Pita closes his eyes. “I close my eyes, and I can see a better day. I close my eyes and pray,” Pita sings quietly.
“Shut up!” I tell him. Miraculously, he does. The plane lands, and we are put in tubes that take us to the arena, which is a forest similar to the one in District 12. I look at my outfit which consists of a green shirt that matches my skin color, simple pants, a thin jacket that reflects heat, and my Hamburjay pin. Haysnitch gave Pita and me some advice before we were sent here. I run his words in my mind again.
“Don’t get anything from the Cornastupia. Just run and try not to die,” Haysnitch told me earlier. The Cornastupia is filled with stupid, useless things such as matchbox cars, Windex, or pressed flowers. The list goes on. Sometimes, though, you can find a use for them. I look at the arena. There’s a lake to the right, and the rest is just woods. Most of the contestants will obviously go to the lake because of the water, so I will want to head into the forest. I observe the items at the Cornastupia. There’s a backpack a few feet from me and a kid set of bows and arrows about six feet away. I don’t care what Haysnitch says. I’m going to get something, and then I will run for my life.
Then something that sounds like an Elk’s mating call sounds. That must be the bell. Oh dear, I just lost a few seconds figuring that out so I start moving. I sprint for the backpack, but I feel something hit me. A contestant behind me is pounding a stuffed animal that looks like Big Bird on me. I have to run faster. Death by Big Bird would be terrible! I grab the backpack and sprint for the forest, but I slam into this huge, olive-skinned boy. He has a Tonka truck hoisted above his head. I duck before the toy can slam into my head. Then I run as far away from the Cornastupia as I can. When I feel too tired to keep running, I stop and check out my backpack.
“It’s hot pink with Barbie and Ken on it, eww,” I complain. I open it and find a Barbie water bottle, Barbie sleeping bag, Barbie camp chair, and Barbie flashlight. Oh, there’s also a Barbie tent. I think, overall, I probably got a good deal. Normally, few things in the Cornastupia are for camping. I continue hiking until I suddenly hear voices behind me.
Part Five: Cracker Jackers
I climb a tall tree and hide my eye-sore of a backpack. Soon, the voices take shape, and I see who they are--careers, from the wealthier districts. Careers spend their whole lives training for the Hunger Pangs. They think it’s an honor to be chosen. Usually, the winner is one of the Careers. The Careers seemed to have made a pact to work together until everyone but them is dead, and then they go against each other.
“What did you get from the Cornastupia?” a guy whose name I think is Baito asks.
“I got this lousy bow and arrow set,” a girl named Glitter answers. I know it’s an odd name; her parents are celebrities. I want her bow and arrow set, but I’m not sure how to get it. I see movement in the tree next to me. My head quickly turns in the direction of the movement. It’s a girl named Rue from District 11. Man, she’s an angry girl! She tells everybody they’ll rue the day, but no one ever did anything to her. Rue points to something above me, and I see what it is. A nest of Cracker Jackers. The Crapitol makes these strange animals sometimes, like the Hamburjay and the Cracker Jackers. The Cracker Jackers are shaped like crackers, but they pack quite a sting. They make you feel terrible and hallucinate if you get stung by one.
“Thank you,” I mouthed to her. I break off a stick from the tree but the Careers never notice. I shove the Cracker Jacker nest so it falls on them. Baito and a few other Careers scatter, but Glitter isn’t so lucky. The Cracker Jackers are on her immediately. Hmm, they must hate Bradgelina, her celebrity parents. I race down the tree and pry the bow and arrow set from her dying hands. Then, I run for it.
I notice I’m surrounded by butterflies. I dance with them, and they start to land on my arms, tickling me. I start giggling. Then, one lands on my nose. I cry out. The butterflies look like Donald Trump!
“Aaaaah!” I scream. Then butterflies cover me, tickling me so I collapse in a fit of laughter and screaming. Then I drown; I drown in a sea of butterflies.
Part Six: Unlikely Allies
I wake up to a sharp sting on my cheek.
“Ow,” I murmur, rubbing my cheek.
“It’s about time you woke up, Dogbreath!” I hear a squeaky voice say. I turn around and find Rue.
“Rue? Why didn’t you kill me?” I ask. The little, black-skinned girl glares at me.
“I could if you want me to!” she threatens. I shrink away from her.
“No, I’m good,” I tell her.
“Okay. Well, I was thinking we could be allies,” Rue proposes.
“Allies?” I rub my head, which hurts like hell. “Why would you want to be allies with me?”
“Easy, you’re good at shooting that thing,” she gestures toward the bow and arrow. “And I am good with plant identification since I’m from District 11. We would make a good team.”
“Well, alright,” I agree. We shake hands.
“Now let’s move, Toilet Licker!” Rue commands. I grab my bow and arrows.
“Uh, I have a question!” I say.
“Well, out with it!”
“How many people died at the Cornastupia yesterday? And keep your voice down!” I whisper to her.
“Half, so twelve are left. Actually, now there are eleven since the Cracker Jackers killed stupid Glitter,” Rue tells me. “But I have a plan.”
“What’s your plan?”
“Let’s blow up the career’s stuff!” she suggests.
“Why? The stuff they have is stupid.”
“True, but they’ll find a use for it, and it’s fun blowing stuff up!” Rue squeals, almost jittering with excitement.
“Also true,” I admit. “How will we blow it up?”
“The Careers had a guy from District Three activate land mines from the arena entrances and put them around their supplies,” Rue informs me. “There are some Teletubby figurines hanging off a crate of apples. Just shoot the crate with your weapon and make the figurines fall. Then, it’ll go boom!”
“Alright, I like it,” I say, approving of her plan.
“Great, I will stay here with the stuff while you go do that. Sound good?”
“Then go do it, dum-dum!” Rue screams at me. So I do. I march over to the Career’s camp by the lake, and I spot their stuff. I will allow myself only three arrows to make the teletubbies fall. I shoot the first arrow. It just makes them shake. I shoot the second arrow. They inch closer to the edge. I shoot the third arrow and they finally fall, making the stockpile explode. I’m thrown back and land next to a charred Barney doll. I listen for footsteps. I hear some in one ear, but the other ear is deaf. I get up and run for Rue. I arrive at the spot where Rue is supposed to be and see her battling a guy in a batman suit. It must be Marvel, the guy from District 1. Who else would wear a superhero costume?
“Katnip! Help!” Rue yells.
“Cat naps yelp?” I ask, confused.
“No! He--“ Marvel kills Rue with a Batarang and then throws one at me. I duck. Marvel takes out another one.
“I’m coming for you!” a voice sings from a few yards away. Pita! He grabs the Batarang that was aimed at me and throws it back at Marvel, who falls to the ground dead. Pita runs away, limping while singing, “I’ll never let you go!” Wow, Pita saved me. I turn to look at him again, but he’s gone. I go over to Rue’s body and kick it.
“Sorry you died, Dogbreath,” I say mournfully.
Part Seven: Beaver Fever
I lost my ally so I just walk in the forest, awaiting any other dangers. My one ear is still deaf so I make sure to be extra careful. Then, I arrive at a stream, where I take a nice, long drink of water and fill my Barbie water bottle.
“Baby, baby, baby…” I hear Pita. I look around the stream, and sure enough, I see Pita lying on top of a beaver’s dam surrounded by beavers.
“Pita!” I shout. He stops singing.
“Katnip!” he says gleefully. “Come meet my beaver friends. They love my singing.” I walk over to him and he does not look good. He has a cut in his leg from the batarang and it’s oozing pus. Red lines spread out from it. He must have a blood infection. The beavers huddle around him, keeping him warm.
“Pita, you need medicine,” I tell him.
“I know. I’m having these singing outbrea--I need somebody to loooove!” Pita sings. I feel his forehead, and it’s dangerously hot. Then, I feel Pita’s lips on mine. Eeeww! I squeal in my head. I play along though. Maybe we can get sympathy from the audience. “There’s gonna be one less lonely girl, one less lonely girl,” he sings once he breaks away.
“Pita, it seems that you have Bieber Fever,” I say. I look at the beavers. “Or beaver fever,” I suddenly hear a voice in the sky.
“Attention tributes,” the voice says. Tributes are contestants in the Hunger Pangs. “By the Cornastupia, there are backpacks with your district’s names on them, containing something you need.” I am already racing for the Cornastupia. Once I arrive, I see Baito racing for the backpacks along with the huge guy from District 11. I grab Pita’s bag and I run for it, but the guy from District 11, Plush, is in front of me. He slams my head with his Tonka truck. I ignore the blinding pain and sprint for the forest. I hear Plush scream until he falls silent. Plush is dead. I see the stream ahead of me, and I hand the pack to Pita. I plunge my head beneath the freezing water to numb my injury. I grab a beaver and put it to my head. The beaver doesn’t protest. Pita takes out a CD player and an “AC/DC” CD. He inserts the disc into the player and puts the headphones over his ears. The red lines protruding from his cut dissipate and soon the cut is just a scar.
“Pita?” I check to make sure he’s okay.
“I’m alright,” Pita tells me.
“Are you sure? You won’t sing Justin Bieber anymore?”
“Nope,” he tells me. “’Cause I am TNT. Watch me explode!” he sings. Oh lord, now it’s AC/DC. At least it’s not as annoying as Justin Bieber. “I’m joking, Katnip.”
“Oh good!” I sigh in relief.
“Today’s announcement is brought to you by Oxi Clean!” the voice in the sky says. I look up, and I see there’s a projection of Billy Mays smiling next to a bucket of Oxi Clean. “Right now, the only tributes left are the District 2 contestants, Baito and Blove, and the District 12 contestants, Pita and Katnip. May the odds be ever in your favor!” Then, the screen shows a slideshow of the dead.
“Let’s run,” I say.
Part Eight: The Hunger Pangs are a Lot Better than Narnia
Pita and I arrive at a cave that should hide us pretty well. I go in to see if it is safe. After walking for a few seconds, I arrive in a forest where there’s a lantern.
“Huh?” I say, puzzled. Then, I see a little girl on a white horse trot in front of me. She stops. “Uh hi, who are you and where am I?” I ask the girl.
“I’m Lucy and you’re in the magical land of Narnia,” Lucy tells me.
“What?” I ask, not believing my ears.
“Yeah, I know. This story sucks. I mean, we worship a lion named Aslan here! How stupid is that?!” Lucy exclaims.
“Okay, bye.” I take slow steps back, leaving Lucy and Narnia behind. I go back to Pita. “It’s safe if you don’t go too far,” I tell Pita.
“Alright,” he shrugs.
“You know, Pita, you’re actually cute when you’re not singing those Justin Bieber songs,” I admit.
“Really, you think so? Glad to hear it. You know, I’ve actually liked you for a long time,” Pita confesses and crawls towards me.
“Okay, I don’t think you’re that cute,” I tell him.
“I know, but we have to pretend to like each other for the audience,” he whispers and raises his eyebrows. So we engage in this totally phony romance for the audience, and it’s a really boring story. So let’s skip to the part where we’re forced to get out of the cave and go toward the Cornastupia.
Part Nine: The Beginning of the End
A bunch of centaurs with spears charge towards Pita and I, forcing us out of the cave.
“This is the entrance to Narnia! Do you guys belong in Narnia? No!” a centaur rants at us. The centaurs keep chasing us until we’re by the Cornastupia. Pita and I hide in the golden horn so the centaurs can’t get to us. However, Baito and Blove come towards the Cornastupia since they’re being chased by a pack of werewolves.
“Aaah! We’re being chased by Jacob’s pack of werewolves!” Baito screams. Sure enough, Jacob and his werewolf pack from “Twilight” are chasing Baito and Blove. Then, the pack of wolves overtake Baito and Blove.
“That’ll teach you to mess with Bella!” Jacob yells.
“But we didn’t mess with Bella! We just asked who she was!” Baito screeches. Baito and Blove are both pretty bloodied up and they look miserable. I take out my bow and arrows. I head over to the pack of wolves, and I shoot both Baito and Blove in the head.
“Hey! Thanks for killing them for us!” Jacob thanks me. I nod and soon, the wolf pack goes away. Pita and I are the only contestants left. I don’t want to kill Pita. He just stopped being annoying.
“Katnip, I don’t want to kill you,” Pita admits.
“I don’t want to kill you,” I say.
“There can be only one winner,” the voice in the sky informs us. I walk over to a bush of berries. They’re nightlock berries, they’ll kill you when they hit your stomach. I hand Pita some berries, and we both swallow them.
We died. Take that, Crapitol!
Eiffie’s Rules of the Hunger Games
I will not call Katniss “Robin Hood.”
I will not ask Plutarch Heavensbee if his house is black and yellow.
Gale is not Taylor Lautner.
I will not sing “The Hanging Tree” to Katniss’s mom or the Gallows.
I will not call Finnick “Percy Jackson” or “Poseidon.”
I will not say “crazy” in front of Annie.
I will not ask Katniss where her band of Merry Men are.
No, Peeta will not make a free cake for you.
I will not ask the Gamemakers to play Chutes and Ladders with me.
Do not call President Snow “Snow White.”
Do not cross out “Bird” in the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” and replace it with “Jay” and give it to Katniss.
Do not call Glimmer “Brittany Spears.”
Do not attempt to stand in the rain hungry outside Peeta’s house and hope he will give you bread and fall in love with you.
I will not set Katniss on fire and call her “the girl on fire” while she’s screaming.
Do not say “Look! It’s Taylor Lautner!” to Maygan when it’s actually Gale.
I will not call Katniss “Tweety.”
I will not wear my “Down with the Capitol!” t-shirt to the Capitol.
District 13 is not the setting of Resident Evil.
President Coin isn’t on the quarter and don’t call her “George Washington.”
Don’t call Prim “House,” or her mother for that matter.
Don’t tell Cinna that you liked Ralph Lauren better.
I will not play with Katniss’s bow or Finnick’s trident.
Don’t tell Peeta that he can “frost your cake any day.”
Don’t call Beetee “Jimmy Neutron.”
The Arena isn’t a place to watch hockey.
I will not call the Mutts “Scooby Doo.”
I will not sell morphling to Johanna Mason.
Don’t call Darius “Darius Rucker” and expect him to sing country songs.
I will not call the Peacekeepers “hippies.”
Don’t try to see Finnick Odair in his underwear.