Friday, February 5, 2016

The 24th Hunger Games: Epilogue: The Victor

The 24th Hunger Games: Part Twelve: The Victor
The Epilogue
By Lauren Price


“I drag myself out of nightmares each morning and find there’s no relief in waking,”-Finnick, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

            Victors are only worth their service to the Capitol.  Tributes provide entertainment of death, and violence, becoming killer superstars by the end of their games.  Victors though, are held to a much higher standard, and given so much more attention, more than any one of them desired.  There are some that are made into prostitutes, some that drove themselves to drink, and others who went insane.  Kaede had now come to consider himself the latter, and the Capitol had not come to appreciate that.  The drunks were easy to hide, and control when the time came.  The ones forced to sell their bodies made the Capitol money, and were already managed.  The insane though, could neither be managed, nor well hidden, at least in their own districts. 
The lights in the room were a pale, bland kind that only added to the dullness he felt.  Men in surgical masks and white coats were all he ever saw now as they “treated” him, something that had long since seemed to be less for his own good.  Cold seeped into him through his paper gown from the metal chair they had strapped him to, though he had not made a struggle in the last several weeks.
            “With his story he would have been a great mentor.  Sad he had to breakdown.”  One of the men leaned in front of him, shining a small light in his eyes.  Kaede let him do as he pleased, not fighting the hand the held open each eye as the light was held up to his face.  There was no reason to fight a losing battle, they always won, and always there was a cost.
            “No one cares as long as he’s seen at the Reapings.”  The man he couldn’t see stuck a needle into Kaede’s neck, likely giving him the usual sedative.  At least that’s what he figured it to be at this point.  It knocked him out as soon as they stuck him back inside the small room he now called home, so he couldn’t guess differently.
            “What about the other victor from his district?”  They never spoke like he was there and he didn’t blame them, he must have seemed like an empty shell to anyone besides himself.  All the emotion was gone, all of the soul seemingly missing.
            “Snow handled him.  He won’t be asking questions.”  Even through the numbing of the sedative, Kaede felt a sense of shock, but it only served to agonize his hand.  The stub was still an achievement, but the pain it emitted was hard to quell, and with all the drugs they gave him, none of it was ever morphine. 
            “How?  He’s not even president.”
            “No.  But there’s quite a few people who think he will be.”  The man in front of Kaede nodded, and undid the ties that held Kaede to the chair, grabbing his arm to haul him up. 
            “I’ll be right back.”  He gripped Kaede, but his grasp wasn’t firm, and the sedative hadn’t entirely taken hold.  There was a thought to remain the amenable, hollow form of himself that kept him calm, but the thought of Berkeley pushed into his mind.  The Capitol never asked for anything, they handled things with ruthlessness, and that idea made him shake with a feeling that had long been absent.  Kaede wrenched his arm out of the man’s hand, using the chair to gain some sense of levelness before aiming it at the man.  The metal object flew through the air, hitting the man square in the back.  There was a yell as he fell to the floor, Kaede stumbling to the ground from the force it had taken.
            “Quintus!”  The other man stepped in and helped his friend up, the both of them eyeing Kaede suspiciously.  Kaede though could only stand a little, leaning weakly on the nearest table.  “How did he?”
            “It doesn’t matter.  Just grab him.”  They each took one of Kaede’s arms, readying to haul him back. 
The anger that had caused Kaede to act returned, his feet trying to stop their progression, but slipping miserably on the tile floor.  “Where is he?”  His voice weak with disuse, came out raspy.  “What did you do to him?”  The last question came out as a shout, the anger turning into an uncontrollable fury.
            “What the hell is he going on about?”  There wasn’t any fear in their voices as they spoke, only annoyance.
            “Didn’t you give him the sedative?”
            “I did!  Just give me a minute.”
            “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!”  All sense was gone as they ignored him, an image of Berkeley dead holding onto his mind.  “WHAT DID YOU DO TO BERKELEY?”  There were curses aimed at him as they dragged him further and further into the hallway, using all of their strength to counteract the violent energy that had taken over him.  “WHERE IS HE?”  He thrashed against the arms of his captors even as they unceremoniously threw him into his small room.  When the door slid in between him and them, he turned to beating on the door, hardly noticing the surprised expressions in the midst of his anguish, or the pain that lanced out from his fists, bruises and cuts forming where skin met reinforced glass. 
“What did you do to him?”  His yell fell on deaf ears as he slid down the glass door, tears replacing his anger with only sorrow.  Their expressions didn’t change from annoyance, sharp stares aimed at his shaking form.  He curled into himself on the floor, hugging and clutching at his body.  “What did you do?”  The question echoed in the small cell as he fell asleep, the sedative finally taking affect, but the emotion still present in his tear strained face.
            “I thought you had him under control?”  A young man stepped up beside the scientists to have a look through the door, his face set in an unpleased frown.  The frown only grew as he stared at Kaede, taking in the sight of the cracked hands.
            “Mr. Snow.”  One of the scientists shrank back a little.  “We did, but he suddenly startled.  It’s back under control, sir.”
            “It’d better be.  And he had better be ready for next year’s Reaping.  I won’t have a lunatic being called a victor.”  He shook his head, and pursed his lips, letting the scientists see his dissatisfaction.
            “The medicine is still experimental, sir.  He could die.” 
            Snow raised an eyebrow, finding little sympathy for the concept.  “Either way, I’ll have my Games going according to plan.  Just make sure he is taken care of.”

            “Yes, sir.”  Snow disappeared as quickly and quietly as he had appeared, not leaving any hints as to how Kaede was to be fixed, just the command which hung over the room like a death sentence.  His victors would be controlled, at whatever the cost.
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