…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
I was recently having a conversation with a friend about fan fiction and as you may know I’ve been reading and watching The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I’ve never really written any kind of fiction, fan or otherwise, although I have pondered various alternative scenarios within some films I’ve watched, usually as a means of imagining myself having a role to play. What follows will be a spoiler for those who haven’t read or seen all of The Hunger Games books/films, a piece of fan fiction if you will, that I’ll call “Following the Spark”.
Last night I had a Hunger Games dream and what follows is based upon the ideas that were born out there. I’m currently half way through the second book “Catching Fire” where Katniss and Haymitch have been picked for the Quater Quell, a special kind of Hunger Games event that occurs every 25 years, in order to act as a further reminder about the past and reasons for the punishments that are inflicted on the twelve Districts. Peeta has stepped up to take Haymitch’s place.
The Tributes picked for the Quarter Quell have all arrived back at the Capitol after being taken from their Districts again, and similar to the previous Hunger Games where Katniss and Peeta won, much to the dislike of President Snow, they’re sent to spend some time in the Training Centre.
Haymitch has stepped up to be one of the trainers this time, rather than only being an advisor to the two Tributes in his and Effie’s care, but rather than instructing Tributes on such things as martial arts or fighting with weapons and other “active things”, he’s holding a seminar on ‘How to survive in the wild’, and further to this he’s giving his talk to all the Tributes together; arguing that he hasn’t the patience to give the same talk and information to individual Tributes or the pairs from each District. This is apparently explanation enough for the powers that be, the Games organisers, who might otherwise have wondered how any one Tribute would gain an edge in this field if they’re all taught the same and together; reluctant to ask questions through fear of showing weakness or an edge. The powers that be also seem oblivious to the lack of protest from the Tributes regarding this approach. This is because the Tributes are playing along.
As we know, uprisings have been occurring within some of the Districts, starting with District 8 and the death of Rue during Katniss and Peeta’s time in the last Games. Each district is kept apart from the others and as far as news is concerned the only slithers of information that have crossed the boarders, generally via the TV sets when viewing is enforced, have been those that spark an element of curiosity among those in the Districts that have had a glimpse or more of the outside world, such as past winners of the Hunger Games; Katniss in particular.
Haymitch turned to a life of drink and little else following his win at the last Quater Quell 25 years ago. It was his way of coping with the atrocities he experienced; the evilness and sickening world orchestrated by the Capitol; being forced to fight others, or at least witness their deaths. It’s not the same for those that simply watch the Games, they’re not living them, and for those in the Capitol, or those in Districts that live to fight in the games, it’s actually entertainment. Katniss battles with nightmares almost every night, she wasn’t born to fight, not other people, but she’s had to cope with this for only a short time relative to Haymitch. The years of increasing drink have done their damage, but he’s still standing. As much as he has tried to shut out everything, snippets have got through to him and this increased exponentially when Katniss and Peeta had their time in the Games and all that has followed since. This is why he now fights away his addiction and compulsion to turn to a bottle at every opportunity, but it’s tough; his head pounds, his hands are unsteady, and his temper is short towards anyone that tries to discuss anything with him. Katniss observed all this upon first meeting him all those months ago and naturally found her way through to him.
The slithers of information that have found their way through to those Tributes with eyes and ears to receive them have done enough. They know that the world needs to change; they’ve all been in the games. They’ve all seen death with their own eyes, not through a screen. True, some of them, the Careers, were raised to lavish the games, they’re likely to be the least receptive to change, the strongest willed are there to fight their fellow Tributes, to the death, they know little else, but others, those from the Districts that have seen uprisings already or the hint of the early stirrings of one know they are here for a purpose. It’s time for change.
To achieve that purpose they play along. They enter the seminar room quietly and in a civilised manner, none of the sizing each other up or putting others down, they’re ready to listen to Haymitch with ears of respect and a keenness to learn all that they need to do; to survive in the wild.
This isn’t the wild of the Games arena though. No. As they know, but the powers that be seem to remain unaware to, this is the wild of the outside world; the world beyond the confines of their individual districts, a world beyond this nightmare created by the powers that be. Up until now the choices have been two-fold; to fight, or to die. Now they create a third choice for themselves. It’s time to open up their borders, to break down the barriers that have been erected around them, to overthrow the guards that keep them subdued with hunger, being overworked, and whippings. The Tributes for this Quater Quell are to be the ones to lead the residents of their Districts out into the wild, into a new world. The residents of their Districts back home already have a respect for them; even if, like Haymitch, they’ve struggled with bad ways since winning their games.
The Capitol will suffer now; that’s not the intention, it’s the natural outcome from this situation. All the supplies up until now and after all these decades that have been freely provided by the enforced efforts of the malnourished slaves of the Districts will stop. No more food, no more medicines, no more coal, no more clothing, no more electrical goods, no more of anything unless they learn to make it for themselves, just like the Districts have had to do for the past 75 years. Within the Capitol they’ve already seen some supply lines dry up, certain foods have stopped landing on their plates for example, but they’re oblivious to the reasons why; they could see it if they opened their eyes and looked beyond their glossy, pedicured and pampered Capitol confines, but why would they? They could have stepped up and made the world equal for all, but they chose not to. They were oblivious to the idea that such a choice existed; they were happy, they were fed.
Haymitch’s seminar is well under way and packed with all the information that has formulated within his head over the past 25 years. Up until now he didn’t have anything figured out, there were only puddles of stuff stupefying in the alcohol that prevented coherence, but somehow, his calling, this responsibility that has befallen him through his own acceptance of a need to turn things around or see this mindless world persist on its current cruel path, his mission as he now learns it, in this instant, puts him in his element, an element that neither he nor anyone knew existed. He stands with conviction in front of all and relays with clarity all that the Tributes need to know in order to “Survive in the wild”, and he does this in a way so as to maintain the front, that his talk is to give some advice to those Tributes, some of them aged, but most working down to the ages of teenage Katniss and Peeta, helpful advise regarding surviving the Games once again, whilst secretly enlightening them about the eventful journey ahead.
All the Tributes remain calm with receptive expressions. There is no cheering for an uprising; they’re playing their Game already; it’s deadly serious and they know it. Those that are from the Districts that have almost no concept of an uprising are carried along with the flow; they’re not necessarily outnumbered by those that know an uprising is the way forward, but the force of that current is enough to either drag them along with it, or spin their heads round while they try and figure out a way out of the turbulence. Really it’s now of little use to fight the changing tide.
Meanwhile, in one of the districts, an opening has formed in part of the fencing that’s supposed to keep all within, but are sold as a means of keeping the harmful creatures of the wild out. This is a District that is heavily reliant on farming, with acre upon acre of smoothly rolling fields, some for growing crops, others to provide grazing ground for sheep and goats. The fencing that has been opened up leads out into the surrounding forest. These animals have been released, although done so in such a way so as to look like an accident; a simple failure of a fence that needed repair perhaps. The reason is two-fold. Firstly it is so there is nothing left for the District, nothing that it can supply to the Capitol, and secondly, so the District’s residents will have an everlasting food supply once they too leave the confines of the District; they can catch individual sheep and goats for their milk, meat or warm coats, or create new farms upon land of their choosing.
Here though, where these creatures now escape through the hole leading from their old fields, the terrain is alien and rough, it is rocky and nothing like that within the District itself. To step foot upon this type of ground when one has no experience of doing so is sure to lead to twisted ankles if one isn’t careful, but as the sheep and goats learn of the opening they gather pace and stream through the fencing in swathes. Normally these creatures are as passive as their masters, spending their days calmly pacing around their designated feeding grounds, but suddenly they’re called into action and it’s a sight to behold to see them now running as fast as their legs will take them. You would be forgiven to think they are used to running, they’re not. If there’s an onlooker of this spectacle, they might also be forgiven for fearing these animals too will twist an ankle, or worse, as they bound from rock to rock that leads down from the opening, down into the wild and unknown world beyond, but a dormant knowledge and understanding about how to traverse this terrain has been thrust to the surface of their mind and cells of their limbs like a long-time-dormant code within their DNA has been switched on.
Now I have to read the rest of the actual book to find out what really happens next!