The second week of January, and everyone gathers in the District Square. It’s cold—cold enough to see your breath, and there’s ice on every roof. The ground is slick beneath the thousands of shoes that cram into the square. Coats, scarves, and mittens wrap around frozen bodies. But this isn’t an ordinary reaping by any means, and to have it take place with the ordinary December chill rather than this January freeze would seem wrong.Misty Qwerty, of the 44th Games
In some respects, there’s relief. There’s excitement. There’s fear. The 100th Hunger Games, Part A has a smaller pool from which it’ll draw its tributes, but those potential tributes have already once faced the horrors of the arena. Perhaps it is true that their fear is greater than the fear of any ordinary tribute.
Crowds pour into the street, and people squeeze into alleys and adjacent roads. Large television screens display the dais at the centre of the District Square for those who cannot get a good first-hand view. People shift anxiously around and chat nervously. There’s tension, but its different tension. It’s not the fear for most but the apprehension of a new sort of torture the Capitol has for those who were unlucky once years ago.
The Square has a roped off section divided in two: one for male victors and one for female victors. But there’s no giant ball from which the escort will draw names—the Capitolites have already assembled their list by popular vote. They, too, await this moment, but in another part of Panem and for another reason entirely. The officials are on stage now: the mayor, the escort, the typical gathering of people who normally officiate the reaping. And now all eyes are drawn to the stage. . . .
The mayor welcomes everyone to the first reaping of the 100th Hunger Games. After a brief history of Panem, the screens flash to President Sinclair giving his speech from the Sixth Station. He’s self assured, confident. Like a man you would want to trust if you didn’t know he was about to send twenty-four innocent people into extreme torture and certain death. When he finishes, the focus returns to the mayor. The mayor holds up a scroll with the official seal of Panem printed on the back for all to see, and reads,
“’As a reminder that every citizen is a citizen of Panem and not above the laws or outside of its jurisdiction, the tributes of the first part of the Quell shall be taken from the pool of pre-existing victors.’”
This you already know. But the crowd is dead silent now.
“’ And as a reminder that the Capitol holds ultimate power, the citizens of the Capitol City will determine the tributes for the first part of the Quell by popular vote, regardless of tributes district. . . .’”
You hold your breath. You know these victors. Maybe you’ve never talked to them, but they’re familiar. They’re the people who overcame the odds and survived. They’re the ones who were once lucky. . . .
“The Capitol has spoken. From the list of all of the living Victors comes the national favorites. The tributes for the 100th Hunger Games, Part A representing our beloved district are . . .”
Caydence Matthes, of the 86th Games