Hour.

When twelve year old Josie volunteers as a tribute in her first reaping, she knows it to be a death sentence. No miracles, no going down fighting.
Just a cold, open grave.

There's only an hour left for her, her and her Father. Just an hour to say goodbye.

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2. Because I must.

And so, the day arrives...

And Josie is brave.

And Josie is taken.

And I let her be taken.

 

Just like we planned.

Just like I promised.

 

So I'm standing outside that room, that god awful room, and I know, I know that my daughter's inside. I have to go to her, just like we planned, I have to go and say goodbye, just like I promised.

 

But I can't. How can I?

Everything, every breath, every step I take, and all I see... all I can feel is that moment, that day, that time I last stood here.

That moment....

Oh god.

 

I remember my reaping, I remember when I was taken, all I've ever tried to supress or forget, it's all here, it all comes rushing back to me. The things I did, the lives I took, the THINGS I DID. I can't even begin to describe.

Just stood out here, at the door to that bloody room. It's exactly the same.

Fifteen years, it's been, and nothing's changed.

I take a deep breath, my head is throbbing, and my vision blurrs with my every heartbeat.

I give up trying to fight these visions. I let them consume me.

 

 

Sixteen. A sixteen year old boy, that's all you are. Not made for this, not meant to fight, not meant to kill. This is not how you imagined it might be. Where is the fun? Where is the glory? A crowd simply stare in a hazy fog of loss and disbelief and pity. They do not cheer for you. They do not even wish you goodbye. It's like they glaze over your humanity... because of the death, because of the horror, because they know what's going to happen, they pretend you're not even real. The second you step onto that stage, you're just a picture. A scattering of pixels on their TV, an image of a boy, unreal. You know because of the girl at your side. She isn't human to you, she can't be. Because you're going to kill her. In cold, cold blood, you're going to kill her.

They turn you and they walk you away, and they stand you at that door. Enter as and when, they say, but somehow you just can't. You're so afraid, so desperatley, deeply damaged. Not that anybody cares. Or wants to care.

Only a select few people will have any idea what that door means. People can't even imagine. Until you stand there,  no matter how people try to describe it, you can't possibly imagine. You're ignorant and clueless.

Because, no matter who you are, you step through that door, and you dispense with your humanity.

First kill? Not even close. Honestly believing you are about to die? That's sweet relief compared to this. Winning? Agony, yes, but that doesn't even scratch the surface of pain.

All the moments in your game, every little things that hurts, you don't feel it. You feel nothing as pain after this.

Walk through that door, and you stop being a child. You stop being a human. You start being a killer.

Step into the room, and become a killing machine.

 

 

It seems kind of strange to me now, that stepping through this door was the memory I tried hardest to erase. Everything that happened in my games, that hurt, of course it did, I can never forgive myself for the things I've done, but the metaphorical shedding of my human skin was something that just caused me such sheer, utter agony...

I need that memory now, though. I need to feel that way once more. It's a pain that I have to relive.

 

 

You're still alive, somehow. A sixteen year old, yes, but no longer a boy. You know to kill. It's your instinct to kill. You treck through a hideous mountain range, jagged rocks slice at your feet, but you feel no pain. Agony is ripping through your lungs with every breath. No water, no food, no hope. All you have is a knife.

It's a good one.

You can't even recall who it is you've dispatched with the blade. You don't want to remember. You can't remember who lives and who dies.

How many more shall you kill?

These people stopped being people a long, long time ago. They were corpses walking the moment you met them. They're just meat. Bags of blood and bones. They're meat to you.

You're a killer. Blood washes over your hands.

 

The games. YOUR games.

You don't know quite how they're scored, but you're pretty sure you're winning. The way that you move, the bags under your eyes and the dark stains on your shirt, the fact that you can be walking, unprotected, and yet totally unharmed, something about it keeps people away, keeps people afraid. Since you killed at the bloodbath, nobody's dared approach you, and anybody unfortunate enough to run into you has long since breathed their last.

And now, you hear a sound. You'd have called it a yelp of fear, but surely, surely there could be no survivors that stupid. Turning, you see a kid, about fourteen. He's got a scorpion crawling up his leg. It's a mutt, you know that much. Unthinking, he calls out to you to save him, like he's forgotten who you are. The empty, lone killer. The systematic murder you employ. He's forgotten it all.

You descend upon the rock he hides behind, and pulling out your blade, you take his life. It's swift. No hesatation. No remorse.

 

 

Oh, I hate myself sometimes, for the things I did, but then... well... I lived, they died. I was right. 

 

Remembering is hard. We forget because we have to.

 

So now, I remember because I have to. When I go to say farewell to my daughter, when I step through that door, it will be the same as the first time. I must leave my humanity outside, I must forget myself, and slip back into a blissfull ignorance, restore my emotional paralysis. Josie, my poor Josie, daughter of mine, I must show no fear, for she will feel my fear. I must show no regret, for she will feel my regret.

I must respect her choice.

I must let her die.

No hesataion. No remorse.

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