Panem Et Circenses

*Two weeks in Panem*- You know how they say books can pull you into another world? Well, for me, Marius Altair, that figure of speech became a reality. Read my account of my tour of Panem and the world of Hunger Games. It may seem like all "panem et circenses" to you, but trust me, it's not! "Two Weeks In Panem Competition"

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1. Panem Et Circenses

A/N: This is my entry for the "Two Weeks In Panem" competition! Please like/favorite/comment! Warning: This has spoilers from all 3 books!

Disclaimer: Hunger Games belongs to Suzanne Collins!

My name is Marius Altair, and I guess you could consider me a normal type of guy- that is until you read what I have to say. Let me take you back a little while.......

**********

This whole debacle started one day when I was re-reading (for the who-knows-how-many) time, the Hunger Games. I was just at the part of the Reaping, when a thought struck me: "Wouldn't it be cool to visit Panem and be in the Games?" With all those cool weapons and sharp objects, it would be totally awesome! Just as that thought flickered through my mind, I got this hazy feeling that made me feel like I was in some sort of limbo. Before I knew it, I was slumping over and falling asleep.

**********

I awoke in this super-comfortable bed that I was pretty sure my family did not own. Looking down, I realized that I was wearing these outrageously colorful clothes that no normal person would own. It looked Capitolian (my word to describe things from the Capitol, i.e. Capitolian food, Capitolian poodles, etc.) and was made of the finest material I had ever felt. 

"Good morning, Marius!" a robotic voice announced, in a Capitol-like accent. That alone scared me out of bed and onto the floor. While picking myself up, I grabbed the nearest object that could be used as a weapon. It happened to be a hairbrush. Why would there be only a hairbrush on the side of a bed in this weird room? I ignored it since I had bigger problems at the moment.

"Who's there?" I called out. The voice seemed to ignore me and continue on it's own speech.

"Today is April 28th, only 12 days until the Reapings of the 73rd Annual Hunger Games!" it continued in that shrill voice. Hunger Games? Reaping? Where was I, Panem? I think I spoke the last  part aloud, since that voice responded, "Of course you are! You are in the lucky suite with an amazing view of Tribute Tower!"

Tribute Tower? I rushed over to my window to check it out. Sure enough, there it stood, the marvelous (no pun intended!) Training Center! I couldn't believe what I was seeing! 

"Hey room, can I go in there?" I asked. If the room was automatically voice controlled, then I better take advantage of that! 

"No, it is off limits for anyone except Gamemakers and Peacekeepers!" the room responded. "But you will be able to view it on Panem Network after the reaping in only 12 days!" Awesome, I figured. If this is a dream, I had hoped that it would last long enough to see the reaping! Too bad it's one year before Katniss's...

Just then I had another thought. "Room, give me some lamb stew!" After reading Hunger Games, I had always wanted to try some lamb stew, especially if it's Capitol made! To my surprise, a little alcove opened in the wall, and, what-do-you-know, a nice bowl of perfect-temperature is waiting for me! I dive into it while trying to savor its taste, Katniss was right, this stuff was delicious! 

After finishing my stew, I decided to look around a bit. My room was a little bigger than Katniss's in the Hunger Games movie, but it still had that cool wall that changed images. I immediately found the remote and poked on all the buttons! The wall and lights flashed a million different scenes and colors, until one caught my eye. Capitol citizens walking down the street. I then remembered, that if this was really Panem, and not a practical joke, then that means that there is a whole Capitol to explore!

After putting on some crazy clothes in the closet, I raced to the nearest door, yanked it open, and happily found that it was an elevator. I rushed in and hit the dot labelled, GROUND. The elevator ride itself was an amazing trip, since it was completely silent, and you could see the ground many feet below you. 

Once I got off, I raced outside, and breathed in a nice fresh breath of Capitol air. Well, not so fresh since it smelled slightly of roses and makeup. I wondered if Snow was around....that reminded me of Snow's mansion from Mockingjay! I set off to find it, and was not disappointed when it wasn't too far off. It was just as magnificent as it was described in the book, especially without all the refugees crowding around. 

For the rest of the day, I toured the Capitol, ate some exotic foods, and met new people. It was definitely full of "panem et circenses" Bread and circuses. I even got to meet Octavia, from Katniss's prep team! Once the end of the day arrived, I somehow made it back to my suite and fell asleep. If this dream continued on like this, it would be great! Oh how wrong I was.....

**********

The next day, I did not awaken in my nice Capitol bed, but a somewhat harder and smaller one. 

"Get up, Marius!" someone shouted. "We don't want to be late for assembly line duty! Then we won't get to do battle training!" I opened my eyes to see a familiar pair staring at me. 

"OH MY GOSH YOU'RE MARVEL!!!! That must mean that I'm in District 1!!!" I shouted in excitement. 

"Yeah, and your Marius...glad you know your best friend's name and what DIstrict we live in!"

"You're my best friend? Awesome! Marvel is my best friend!" Even though Marvel killed Rue, I still thought he was an awesome, spear-wielding dude! 

"Marius, are you okay? Do you need to see a doctor?" he asked back.

"Can I have your autograph?" I replied stupidly. 

"Okay, you're seeing a doctor!" With that, he dragged me away and out of the room. Wow, he was strong! 

"I'm fine!" I insisted. "I just had a...strange dream."

"Fine, but you better not mess up on the job!" We then headed, (or more like he led me) into a room where all these other kids that were about my age were. 

"OH MY GOSH YOU'RE GLIMMER!!!" I shouted again, not learning from my previous error. Before she could reply, another person walked in. 

"Ok tributes! Here are your-" She was cut off by me yelling,

"OH MY GOSH YOU'RE-" I was then cut off by Marvel, who shoved me and whispered, 

"You'd better not say Cashmere if you know what's good for you!" That promptly quieted me down. I knew, that if Gloss walked through that door, I would fall over unconscious. Well, who do think was the next to walk into that room? I once again fell into a sea of unconsciousness, only to be awakened at some point to a video on luxury goods. 

**********

Upon waking up again, I felt this strange, wet sensation on my face. I realized it was water, and promptly woke up. 

"Get up, Marius!" some guy yelled. He must have been the one to dump water on me. I was in some sort of training area because I saw a guy with a wicked looking sword standing above me. I too, happend to have a sword in my hand, and I used it to pull myself up. "C'mon! Only 10 more days until the Reaping! We have to practice!" 10 days? It was 12 days when I was in the Capitol. Hmm...I was drawn out of my musings by a knife flying at me at top speed. 

Somehow, I dodged it, and it landed safely in the target behind me. 

"Get out of the way, Marius!" A girl yelled. Oh my gosh! (I thought in my head) It's Clove! And the guy with the sword was Cato! 

"Am I in District 2?" I inquired. 

"No, you're in that poor little District 12 that just happens to have top-of-the-line weapondry!" Clove replied sarcatically. I took it as a yes. "Now let's train!" she declared.

I spent the rest of my day trying avoid becoming a Marius-ke-bab. At one point, Cato sliced a huge gash in my arm, but doctors amazingly healed it in a few minutes! What amazing technology! At the end of that day, we headed back to these barrack-type things and fell asleep. I actually collapsed asleep with tiredness. Maybe I wasn't cut out for the Hunger Games after all.

**********

The next (day, I guess you could call it?) I awoke hooked up to all these machines. 

"Ah, good Mr. Altair, you're awake! Now we can begin the simulation! Any questions?" 

"Yes," I replied. After a few days of this, I was beginning to get the hang of it. "What District am I in, and how many days until the Games?"

"Oh...I was not aware you we're that out of the loop where you don't even know what District you're in...maybe we should wait until tomorrow...and District 3 and 9 days by the way." That just proved my theory. One District per day.

"No that's okay! I'm fine!" I didn't want to ruin this guy's experiment just because I was acting strange.

"Very well then. We shall proceed." He then hit a bunch of buttons on a device, and I fell into a deep sleep.

That day was spent  reveling in the wonders of District 3 technology. I was presented with several obstacles, but with the awesome tools provided, I solved them all. I also noticed that despite having a large meal in District 2 yesterday, I was still slightly hungry, and not the 'give me some chips and I'll be fine' type of hungry, the 'I've been eating less than stellar meals' type of hungry. Once simulation was over, I blacked out again, while predicting where I would end up next.

**********

As you have probably inferred, I ended up in the lovely District 4, home to the famous Finnick Odair! When I first arrived, I actually had a huge panic attack. After all, who wouldn't, if they woke up underwater, unable to breath! Once my head broke through the surface, I tried to gain my bearings, whatever I could consider bearings in this fantasy world.

I was fairly close to the shore, so that is where I headed to. In fact, I headed to where the giant crowd of people were gathering. I wondered what sort of special event was occurring today. If the system  continued like it has been, then it was still 8 days until the reaping. 

Upon reaching land, I read the signs, and guess what? "FINNICK ODAIR AUTOGRAPH SIGNING!" Of course that was what was happening! Finnick was a pretty awesome dude in the books, but I don't see why people obsessed over him! I mean, he's only an awesome fighter, a kind person, with good looks, and was the 65th Hunger Games Victor! Ok, maybe I see their point...

Since I was on this little fantasy journey, I might as well get Finnick's autograph! One problem, the giant crowd of crazy girls, (and some guys...) screaming, "I LOVE YOU FINNICK!" I just patiently got in the back of the giant crowd, and hoped to move forward. I guess I was lucky that day, because soon enough, the crowd started moving and speeding up. While waiting, I saw some of District 4's natural and man-made beauty. The ocean view was magnificent, and so were all the boats and ships sailing on it. From giant luxury cruise ships, (probably filled with Capitolians) to little speeder fishing boats, they were all detailedly engineered. I also saw some of the flora and fauna of the DIstrict, with its luscious palm trees and various fish. Yes, there were even fish that close to the coast!

Finally, I got to the somewhat front of the lump-crowd, only to have to dodge a group of running girls, screaming for Finnick. Once they passed, I released the breath I hadn't realized I was holding. I did that too soon, though, because right after them, came a decent-sized company of Peacekeepers. They charged through, not caring about trampling me. I slowly lost consciousness as Finnick's face flashed through my vision.

**********

Now, I won't go into detail about most of the other Districts, because, to be honest, they aren't too interesting. No offense to them, but they weren't really the focus of the story. Anyway.....

Still wet from 4. Touched power generator. That's District 5 for you.

Going 200 miles an hour in a prototype train does wonders for the removal of stomach contents. Not really liking District 6.

Got to see Johanna Mason for a second, but had to look away to dodge flying axe. District 7 forests are dangerous. Getting hungry now.

I never want to go clothes shopping ever again. Working in a District 8 factory took care of that. 

I always thought of District 9 as a lamer District 11, since there was only grain. That theory was proven to be true.

District 10 was a pigsty. Literally. There were starving people everywhere, and I was one of them. I couldn't believe how these people were treated, compared to the luxurious Capitol life I experienced just a few days ago. Not loving Panem so much. I saw a sign that said, "Two days until reaping!" 

If District 11 was described as "poor" in the books, that was a major understatement. For being a main food supplier of Panem, they sure didn't get much of that food. I could barely walk around without having Peacekeepers just staring at me ominously. That day all I found for food was a bit of stale grain. No Peetas burning bread here

**********

That brings me to the day things really went wrong. As usual, I woke up in the next District, which happened to be 12. The excitement to finally see Katniss, Peeta, and them, overruled my desire for food. Then a thought struck me. It was Reaping Day. With all this crazy stuff going on, I did not put 2 and 2 together to figure out I would be in 12 on the Reaping. Oh well, I would get to see Effie Trinket!

I got up from the road, (I think it was a rod) that I was laying on and followed my instincts to the Justice Building. I have no clue how I found it, but now wasn't the time to be wondering things like that. Everyone was checking in, and for some reason, I decided to get in line. I walked up to the Peacekeeper, extended my finger, and they pricked it. Somehow, someway, my name was on the list and they let me pass. Another thought that never occurred to me was how everyone already knew me when I just arrived in a District. I was already in the system. 

I hoped I would have time to ponder that later, since Effie Trinket took the stage and began to speak. That "Dark Days" video was played, and then she started the Reaping process.

"Welcome, welcome! The time has come to select one courageous young man and woman to have the honor of representing District 12 in the 73rd Annual Hunger Games! As usual, ladies first!" 

Her spiel must be the same every year.  She fished her hand around in the ball for a long amount of time, as if putting it off would prevent the inevitable. She finally chose one, opened it up, and announced,

"Amanda Cartwright!" Silence struck as a girl that appeared to be about 18 slowly walked up to the stage with a resigned look on her face. I think she was related to Delly Cartwright, since she looked like how I imagined Delly from the book's description. 

No one said a word, or offered any support as she climbed the stage. I couldn't believe that no one even shouted any encouragement for her. I promised my self that I would volunteer for any guy that was called to be a tribute. I don't care if I messed up the timeline. If I was lucky, whatever power moving me through the Districts would zap me somewhere else. But as things turned out, I didn't need to volunteer for anyone, because the next name called out was, 

"Mairus Altair!" 

I was in complete shock. No, make that the most ultimate shock that anyone could feel. My last conscious thought before I felt Peacekeepers carry me away was, "Why me?"

**********

When I awoke I was standing in a tube. I immediately had a huge panic attack, since any Hunger Games reader would know what standing in a tube meant. Before I was even fully awake, I began to ascend to the world above.

I was so stunned, that I did not come out of shock until the minute was up and the gong sounded. While pulling a Peeta, I ran at top speed in the other direction. Unfortunately for me, the guy from 4 was faster and quickly caught up to me. All of my dreams of heroically fighting back vanished. While wielding a huge trident, he sent it toward me as I hoped for the best. I closed my eyes and wished I hadn't made that wish only 12 days ago. Right as he was an angstrom away from striking me with it, that fuzzy limbo-feeling returned as I blacked out. 

**********

For some reason, I awoke, not with a spear through me, but with my Hunger Games book laying on top of me like it was right before I left. "Wow," I thought. "That was an intense dream!"  It really changed my point of view on Panem and the Hunger Games. I knew that I would never take advantage of food or my life again. Despite what I originally thought, my two weeks in Panem taught me that it was not all 'Panem et circenses'  The Capitol and wealthy Districts may have their decadent bread and circuses, but it is most certainly not true for all of them. At least it was a dream, I told myself. However, that was what I thought it was, until one line in the book caught my eye that was definitely not there all the other times I read it:

"I thought back to last year's reaping, with that guy–Marius Altair, I think his name was–and I told myself I would not pass out like he did...."

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