The 76th Hunger Games

Ashby is the daughter of Katniss Everdeen. She has been told barely anything about the Hunger Games purely because of her mother's fear. This puts Ashby in a dangerous position. She and her family are being followed and it's up to Ashby to find out who they are and what they want. But what if ... they want her?

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1. Ashby's Stalker

 

Chapter One

Ashby’s Stalker

It was just another ordinary day out hunting with my little brother, Fir, my Dad and Mum. Mum was teaching us how to use a bow and arrow to get a meal for dinner. She’s amazing at using a bow and arrow. Mum always said I was good at using a bow and arrow too.

“But Mum! How come Ashby always gets to go first?” Fir whined loudly and Mum immediately shushed him. You couldn’t make noise out in the woods or you’d scare off the prey. That’s what Mum’s says anyway.

I lied when I said today was ordinary. It wasn’t. It was my fourteenth birthday and Mum and Dad had been acting really strange. Like something awful should be happening but wasn’t. They were afraid. And it made me afraid too. Fir was clearly too blind to see it as all he cared about was getting to go first.

“It’s my birthday, Fir. I deserve to get the first go, right Mum?” I stared up at my Mum who looked down on me with an amused smile and nodded. Her beautiful, dark hair feel over her eyes as she did so and I saw my Dad’s big hand swoop in to brush it away. Her attention went straight to his eyes and they stared at each other lovingly.

“That’s right, Fir. It’s Ashby’s birthday and the birthday girl is going first.” Mum replied distantly. Fir stomped his foot in anger. He was only a couple of years younger than me but he acted like he was three.

“He’s as bad as you were, Peeta! I distinctly remember you stomping around in that arena-” Mum cut herself off.

“Arena? What arena?” I asked suspiciously. She went pale white. This meant it wasn’t a good subject. It was something I didn’t want to know about. Mum turned to Dad, sighing.

“She’s old enough to know, Peeta.” She whispered, as if she were afraid. I didn’t understand what was so terrifying.

“I know, Katniss, I know. But I wished we’d never have to share what happened with them.” Dad replied. I glared at them, coldly, but they didn’t seem to notice so I gave a stony look to my surroundings. I was absolutely furious. What weren’t they telling me? What was so terrifying that had happened to them? I had to find out.

Something caught my attention by the small stream all the way across the little clearing we were stood in. I raised the bow in my hand and aimed it. I felt the whole wooden structure tense hugely and I released it, sending it spinning accurately towards whatever had been stupid enough to make so much noise.

Everyone was staring at me in shock. 

“What?” I asked angrily and stomped off towards my kill. The grass was thickening as I got closer to it and I could hear the whines of the animal’s last, painful breaths. For a moment, I felt horribly sorry for the poor thing. It hadn’t even stood a chance. But when I got out of the thick grass to where the animal should have been, there was nothing but a pool of blood.

“God dammit!” I stomped my foot in despair. I hadn’t even managed to kill the stupid animal. But then something caught my eye in the trees. I could very faintly see someone clutching their arm as they ran away.

“Hey! Stop, I didn’t mean to hit you!” I screamed after them, wanting apologise for shooting at them with an arrow. Of course, that hadn’t been intentional. “Oh my god! He took my best arrow.” I cursed under my breath. Fir reached me first and took a double take at the blood on the floor and nearly fainted.

“Fir, you are such a girl!” I cried when he landed on me. I shoved him off, angrily. Mum reached me next but I didn’t realise until she was standing next to me. She knows how to stay really quiet. Dad soon followed with ungraceful thuds. You’d hear him from a mile off.

“Oh better luck next time, Sweetheart.” Mum said kindly, patting me on the shoulder. The impact of what I’d done took force. I hated myself for hurting that person. Clearly, they hated me too, because they didn’t want to stand there and take my apology.

“Mum, I hit someone.” I told her, the fear rising clearly in my voice. She looked gobsmacked. The images of the person running off wounded kept flashing in my brain. I couldn’t take it. What if I’d killed them?

“Peeta ...” Mum’s voice wobbled. Oh god, she was going to hate me too. “Someone must’ve been spying on us. They were too close to have been doing anything else.” Spying on us? I hadn’t thought of that. But why would they be spying on us? We were probably the most normal family in the whole of the town we lived in.

“That’s impossible, Katniss. You know it is. Don’t let our past haunt you out of your dreams too.” Dad said soothingly to my Mum. I was gobsmacked when Fir came and hugged me from behind, his little hands clasping round my stomach.

“You didn’t mean to though, did you Ashby?” He asked in a tiny voice. I knelt down beside him and cupped his cute and chubby face.

“Of course not, Fir. You know me.” I replied softly and his grey eyes lit up. I’d never really noticed before but Fir resembled an angel to me. He was more like one in personality and looks than anyone I’d ever known although he could be really annoying. I ruffled his gorgeous, golden hair and he ducked under my arms for another hug, which I accepted with open arms.

My little brother was so cute sometimes but I couldn’t help but hate how naive he could be. He missed everything. He especially always missed the warning signs.

I remember the first time he came into school with me. Everyone had stopped to stare at Ashby’s gorgeously cute little brother. They’d scared him half to death and poor little Fir clung onto my hand so tightly, I couldn’t feel it after awhile. The whole day people had continued to do so and in the last lesson, Fir had had enough.

“Will you stop staring at me, please?” Fir had said as politely as he could muster to the class bully, Gunnar Galloway. Big mistake if you ask me. Gunnar Galloway also happened to be much taller than Fir, with nasty sharp black eyes and masses of thick coal black hair. He even gives me the creeps sometimes.

Anyway, Gunnar stood up and towered over little Fir.

“What did you say to me?” Gunnar asked in a harsh, powerful voice for a five year old. Of course, silly little Fir completely missed the fact that Gunnar was very intimidating and stood up too.

“I said, stop staring at me.” Fir repeated in his tiny voice, although you could slightly detect the anger in his voice. Five year old Gunnar had shoved Fir back into the table and sent him flying over it and crashing into the corner. I’d been walking past on my way back from “the toilet” when it happened. I’d stormed in and seized Gunnar by the collar.

“You stay away from my brother, got it?” I’d hissed at him and led Fir straight from the classroom and back home.

“Peeta, why else would somebody be silently lurking across the clearing from us?” Mum hissed fiercely. I hated it when she hissed at Dad. He didn’t deserve it and I know she didn’t mean it but it never made it right.

“I don’t know, Katniss. Just stop worrying about it.” Dad replied quietly. Fir and I exchanged worried glances. There was something big they weren’t telling us. Something huge.

 Then I remembered something. Mum used to wake up screaming. She would be screaming for Dad and someone named Rue. Sometimes she’d scream for Uncle Gale too. I’ve also heard the names President Snow, Finnik and Prim. I didn’t know many of those names. I still don’t. Mum must’ve have gone through something pretty awful if it caused her this much grief. 

Fir had started waving his hand in my face when I refocused. I grabbed hold of his hand gently and smiled as I picked him up and whirled him round. I heard his little giggles as he hung limply in my clutch.

“Ashby! Ashby, stop. Please!” Fir cried so I set him down on the ground and steadied him. His sweet, big grey eyes were wide with laughter. I smiled broadly at him. Mum says he’s one of the only people who could make me smile like that. She means Fir is one of the only people who can make me smile properly. Dad says it was the same with her when she was younger. Apparently Mum barely ever smiled.

“Peeta, I think we should go back. It just doesn’t feel right.” Mum said in a wobbly voice. She looked over and gave me an apologetic smile and Dad nodded meekly. Fir, on the other hand, was not happy.

“But Mum! We just got here. And it’s Ash’s birthday.” Fir complained. I simply shook my head and took his hand. I knew when Mum got worried, I shouldn’t question her judgement. Fir obviously knew not to question mine as he trotted at my side without another word.

When we reached the fence I stopped. I don’t know why I did. The fence used to be electric but wasn’t anymore and some idiot had decided to mend the big rip in it a couple of years ago. But I stopped anyway. And I listened. I heard a faint humming sound of the electricity coursing through the wire.

“Mum ...” I called. “The fence ... the fence is on.”

 

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