The Diary of a Tribute

I am a training cadet from the wealthy Second District of Panem. We all trained for one thing. But then Clove volunteers for the Games, a bloody reminder of the power of the Capitol, in place of her cousin! I have to help her. I can't let her die. She thinks no one likes her, but I'm in love with her.

And I protect who I love.

Together, we will make it out of the arena. Together or not at all.

My name is Cato.

This is my story.

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1. District Two

I was familiar with the noise. The noise of tears. The crying that haunted me, keeping me awake in the late hours of the cycle.

And the dreams. The dreams corrupted by maggots, worms, urchins, and other vermin crawling through massive Cornucopias. By serial killings dominated by a great lion, a great beast I fell spectacularly. By two divided loyalties enumerated by a redhead with a sword and a blondie with a bow and arrow. But knowing I will choose the first one. Corrupted by knives hurtling through the air and my middle school crush floating in and out of my head.

A mirage of beautiful images flared across the air. I had no idea where I was or where I should be at the moment. A war erupted around me, the sky was dark with the evidence of nightfall. But in front of me, the images continue to confuse me, weaving in an arc.

In a split second, the image solidified and the knife wielder was an inch from me. And then faded, screaming and smashing into a mass of grey metal. The voice of a sixteen-year-old grunting in agony and fear...

A slap resounded on my cheek, and the images disappeared...

The sun has just risen over the second district of the country of Panem. The first thing I feel when I wake up is a slap on the cheek.

"Get up, Cato."

I look up. For god's sake, it's only Aree.

My older brother.

Aree is short, slender, and a bit burly. He doesn't look like much, especially compared to all the kids I train with at school, but hearing him shout is enough to make my uncle wet his pants.

He actually wets his pants a lot. We barely see him around. I live with my aunt, but more on her in a minute.

I'm cool with Aree, but it's not his job to hit me whenever I don't wake up the first time he delivers the message.

"You won't want to be late for the Academy," he says tauntingly.

"I know, bossypants," I told him. Wait a minute.

That's today?

I go running upstairs to my aunt. As usual, she's by a window crying. Bless her heart.

Aunt Macey has been like this for a while. Ever since her uncle died, she's been a neglectful guardian. Always spending her time reflecting on the horrors of the past. Never focusing on where we are!

So Aree and I pretty much have to raise ourselves. Which really isn't as bad as it sounds.

I've tried reasoning with her. But the problem with that is, it never changes anything. She still spends all her time brooding. Mostly during these chats she cries even harder, even throws herself on the ground and lamenting how she's secured our everlasting damnation.

And I hate it when people feel sorry for me.

"Did I sleep in?" I asked.

"Your mom slept in all the time," she croaked. "Time to get ready."

"Are you kidding me? This is my first day back at the Academy!"

"Just go," was her quite typical response, uttered in barely a whisper.

The Academy. Since I'm going, technically that makes me a Career tribute. The Academy is the dream of any child. It gives me a chance at fame, fortune, and triumph. Maybe I can win. It's what I've been trying to do my whole life.

You're probably wondering who my crush is there.

And I'll tell you when I get to school.

She's the best knife-handler out of anyone at our school. Not to mention the most agile. She can take care of herself quite well, whenever she's not being an arrogant piece of shit.

She has to hunt. And she's killed criminals on her own before.

I've never taken a life. At least, not a human one.

And I hope I'll never have to.

But then I remember my dreams. What they could mean for me and my poor aunt and brother.

After everything, I can still win.

I can still win the Hunger Games.

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